A Handy Guide To Surviving Family Reunions

  1. Endless arbitrary introductions will still, most likely, be unable to plant the names of your many relations firmly in your mind. Don’t worry, most respond to intense eye contact and the seeds of conversation.
  2. There will be a cacophony of powerful opinions, almost 60 percent of which will not align with yours, 20 percent will be physically repulsive and the other 20 you won’t hear over the din. This is okay, nobody agrees on everything; being blood does nothing to change this.
  3. There will (most likely) be alcohol involved. Know that the man with the timid handshake and sweater vest is an entirely different beast to the ruddy, slurring abomination that weaves in front of you now, but they are still inextricably one.
  4. There will be questions. Endless questions, assaults from multiple angles and multitudinous foes in an attempt to pierce the carefully polished armour thrown up by living away from home.
  5. Remember: these arguments are cyclical and will wane accordingly, diminishing to slivers of irritation.
  6. Remember: For every weaving tower of drunken aggression or insults, there are securely founded pillars to support you in your plight.
  7. Remember: In the face of spitting machine gun mouths, launching interrogations one after another, there are those willing to bear the brunt of the fire, if it’ll take some of the heat off your shoulders.
  8. Finally, remember this. For better, or for worse, all this can only ever be temporary. If all my family spent all their time together, I doubt there’d be anyone left.

Saxophone Echoes

Lamplight pools on rain spattered pavements,
Holding back winter darkness
As candles burn low, the city’s eyes closing
With every sleeping couple.

Illuminated softly,
Bathed in rippling waves of jazz
Flowing from basement bunkers
To pluck at the hearts of lonely lovers
She stands.
Shoulders hunched against November’s icy voice,
Eyes turned down to the floor, face hidden
In a thick woollen scarf.
Breath spirals through fibres in a fine mist
Wandering in to the chill of the night.
She waits.

He turns the corner,
Emerging from the black velvet of the shadows
To bathe in the lamp’s amber glow.
Tired eyes rise from the pavement,
Fixed on the approaching figure’s face
Bright with anticipation and desire

But disappointment turns them dim,
The light seeping into the chimes of midnight
Vying for supremacy with bursts of brass
Winding from the belly of the city.

He is not coming.

A sigh escapes soft lips,
In recognition of sadness, but not surprise.
Down dingy alleys she meanders
Drawn to the drums, lights, crescendos
Of the clubs, losing herself in blaring sound,
In booze, stale cigarettes and jazz.

A Lot Like Me (I.)

He’s sitting, staring, slimy gazes
Slide under the windows pane
I don’t know his intentions
Though I know his eyes are fixed on me

He oozes over discarded junk piles
Keeping carefully out the way
Watches my endeavours burn and crumble
Points and cruelly laughs.

I can hear his teeth click, chattered out chuckles
Maddening rasping wheezing breath
He retches phlegm from his poisonous mouth
It dripping sizzles on the ground

He’s waiting for me to stumble,
Tumble, grind my face on paving
So finally trapped beneath his whispers
His words are vomited over me

“You’ve always been this worthless
And you won’t be changing soon
I’ve watched you all your life
And seen you hurt with words and actions
Watched you sneer
And fail
And spit out lies
You’re the worst I’ve ever known”

There are days when I can’t see him
When his voice is barely heard
On these days the sun shines brighter
My fears all seem absurd
.                But then his whispers turn up loud
.                And more plainly I can see
.                That terrifying as the figure is
.                He looks a lot like me.

Suburbia You Gave Me Nothing

I travelled through suburbia languid
On          tip           tip           tip           toes
To preserve uneasy quiet
Of watching fishnet windows
Guarded by creaking bones
In charity shops clothes
.                                                                (Better wash the dead off)
.                                                                (Before you wear them)
Armoured in
Scratching sweaters armed with
Down-the-nose glances
Disapproving coughs
Disgusted words whispered through
Whatever teeth
Remain for spite to
Whistle through

Face covered
I ducked and weaved
Through flinty stares
Icy glares
Launched from domestic strongholds
Through thick-rimmed bifocal scopes
At hoods and boards and cigarettes
Targeted between meticulously tidy topiary
Over trimmed lawns
Landing with laser accuracy
Shame inducing

.                                               (what are their kind doing round here)
.                                              (this is a nice, quiet neighbourhood)
.                              Someones Aunt sputters in to the ear of anyone
.                               Who’ll listen to her tirade
.                              Served hot and garnished with expensive shortbread
.                                             (Waitrose darling, all butter and just divine)
I turned the corner
Carried on to town
Heard the hostile suburbs
Ripple with the chagrin of my passing

.                                                                  Can’t wait to go back through tomorrow
.                                                                  Make them uncomfortable do I?
.                                                                  Fuck ‘em.

Moonchildren

FINALLY

Ravenous December Chews its way through the trees Snarling at resolute pines Devouring fragile flowers, harsh winds Scouring earth of life and sound, Leaving behind only the strong and the vicious. The night draws a veil over the sea of black firs, … Continue reading

Your Greatest Fear

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

Your greatest fear, you said
Was that one day, you’d wake up
And the stars would have lost their light.
That a time would come when you were
Oblivious to the winds cool, soothing touch,
When you ignored the pleading rain on your window,
Or how hail would rattle the pane.

You would know it was over,
If you stopped reading the pain in people,
If you could walk through the world
Without seeing the colours that shimmer on the skin
Of every passerby.

It scared you most that you might be dead,
Before you ever really lived.
That your heart, would keep beating
When your soul had packed its bags,
And headed home for the winter.

So, wind in my face,
Spray on my tongue,
Armed with the courageous ignorance of youth
And the simple knowledge that I loved you, answered.

“You’re the bravest person I know.
You’ll never die. How could you?
You’ve never been afraid to live.
I’ve seen you leap from cliffs
And laugh as the icy water
Twenty feet below embraced you.
I’ve watched you stand in front of
Two hundred bored sixteen year olds
Telling them why condoms are important.
I’ve seen you love people
Who never deserved it
Forgive the man who took your trust
And ground it in to dust between
Loving hands.
All this and more
Is how I know.”

Catharsis

He sat in silence,
Stuck in the four walls of a cage
He built with trembling hands.
Curtains drawn to block the sun,
To help forget; there were years,
Years before,
Where every mountain was a challenge,
Every rapid an exuberant race,
The air itself shimmered with the joy of
His passage through the world.

Not now.
The bedroom door is locked.
The windows bear a weight impossible to move
With numb hands.
All that seemed safe was inside.
All that could ever be was the cage.

The next day was different.

No one saw him leave, saw
The black that spread
Like waves of mud from his bed
Through the quiet country lanes
To a stone bridge
In the county’s heart.
No one saw him, toes curling
Over the ancient rocks;
Saw how the wind ran its fingers
Through his hair,
Tried to catch him in the air
Heard the breeze wail the world’s loss.

His mother sits
By a stream’s soft bank
Watching it squirm, laughing under
Its own momentum.
There is an otter who swims there,
Dances through the water,
Smiles from the shore.
The air around it shimmers
With the very joy of living
It looks her in the eye
Holds her stare and grins
At the soft tears on her face.
Slowly
Her smile returns.
Maybe the rotund gentleman
Will sit awhile and listen to her stories
Of the young man
His cigar smoke wandering on the wind.
They’ll talk
She’ll laugh
And maybe
Just maybe
The otter is listening
As it plays with the ashes floating downstream.

Transitions

At this moment in time
Life feels
Trans-
.                Ist-

.                                Ory-
.                                                Moving
.                Manic erratic
Leaps    without

Warning
.                Faces, places, doors all shift        My nightsbleedintodays

I don’t know where I’m going
.                                                                Searching
.                For unwritten maps etched with impossible words

And                        I                               can
Feel       the         vice
Of experience
Trying to crush
Me into a mould
A pattern
Set rhythm
That’s easy to follow
Regular and concise
That will slowly flow till
An urn on a window sill
Contains
My remains

.                                                                But I refuse
.                To be compacted                             When I could     float       on           the
Breeze
.                Flow over
Seas
.                                Spend my time existing
.                                                In transit
.                                                                Always going forward
.                                                                                Spreading further

Mist

At 3am the world renders itself as a
Shadow
.                With no clear edges
.                Molasses that slows steps
.                Muffles any
.                                Sound
.                Makes it
.                                                Hard to

.                                Place
.                Your footsteps seem distant
Trailing you
.                                As though somewhere not far back
You were being followed.

.                So you speed up
.                                Maybe you take a headphone out
.                                Maybe that will settle your nerves
.                Maybe for a while it does
.                But
Warm breath on the back of your neck
Whips your head around
The mist swirls and you see
.                                                                                                                                Nothing
.                Shake it off
.                You say but         your steps           lengthen
.
You hear it again
Clicking steps
Fasterfasterfaster
.                Matching             your                     own
Never far behind
You spin and stop

Silence
Secrets in the mist           that        the
.                Weak    lamps    fail          to            light
.                Nearly home
.                                                                                                You can see your house in the distance
.                                                                                A hazy shape
But its
Breathing in your ear
Can almost feels its arms
Grabbing your bag
Dragging you away from
.                                                                                                                Safety
.                                Fumble for keys

.                                                Go faster
Its on the path behind you
.                                You open the door
Running now
.                                Slam it shut
Breathe.
The mist strokes the glass, begging to be let in.