So, the above is a thing. And actually, I surprised myself in having stuff I might, maybe, perhaps, like to submit. Obviously, these are rough, and possibly I won’t bother to send them at all because, you know, I’m not writing anything even semi-decent these days, and frankly I don’t need the world to see how much I suck, ahead of the book coming out. But blah. I wanted to share these anyway, and I guess give props to The Emma Press for the prompt.
Your hair is coming undone
like a frayed sleeve, and I
am so tired I’m seeing
dancing skeletons. It is
three A.M, and we
have always declined
the capable sweetness
of female friendship.
I’m not the kind to print
kisses, and you
distain picnics of all sizes.
We don’t sob on each other,
our tears falling out of us
in folksy faux doubloons;
we’ve never studied
heartbreak’s bedside manner,
how to act when the mouth
is a crushed pout and all
men are bastards.
Our grandmothers had the hoary
hairshirt goodness of redoubtable
hags; had green flags and strong
tea, grim thrift and sensible shoes.
But we have no taste for piety; we
are BacoFoil bonkers, trouncing
scalps in demon heels, mad
as a box of frogs. You’re in
leather, I’m in leopard.
What we share, at three A.M,
is the made face coming apart
in globs and daubs; is the bone
idle bleakness of our border town
after the pubs have shut, and we
are forced to drink coffee and shots
in your grimy kitchen.
You grind out your cigarettes
with trashy aplomb, and swing
your foot into my lap: my sole
is coming away! You say.
For a minute I am confused by that.
Zora says she is sick of hipster girls,
huffy in flip-flops, grooming each
other like pampered cats, grappling
their hair into prissy coifs copied
from YouTube tutorials; calling this
The Gypsy Look.
Zora is a not a fey waif decked
out in daisies, not some pea-
brained pillow piece with showy
bangs. Zora is a thickset psycho
in a red wool dress, full of gusty fire
and a wobbly succulence all of her own.
We’re sat on the rug, in the sun, jugged
in the heat, in the mutton-dressed-as-
morning, touting chai and selling fortunes
to grubby trustafarians. I watch as she
boxes soft obscenities like continental
chocolates, smiles out the side of her mouth,
raking in the shivery Braille of small change.
She is real and she smells of the recent rain
and it strikes me that she is lovely, never mind
those pub-piano teeth, or the big brown welcome
mats of hair beneath her arms. Zora, wider
than a moon river, I wanted the warm, soily
murk of her mouth, cupping my tongue.
But I was a kid, not fit to light her farts, all
grungy cut-offs and seagrass dreads; typical
with brittle brazenness, fronting my fuzzy
begrudging love like a hangover. Zora saw
and squeezed my arm: never mind, poshrat,
your day will come and she grinned, chugging
on plum gutrot, her cigarette smoke settling
I admire you most for the way
you refute them their affable
blackness; for that mad
smotheration of hair in mornings
when we swagged coffee, and you,
fierce and sleepy in equal measure,
chewed that barista out for sisterin’ you.
I love you for being all gomesi and Docs
in the stinky hot mosh-crush of the club,
how you said this headlong glee-for-all
was great and all, but you’d have riffing
all-girl sway, any day of the working week.
And funny, that knowing townie pout
when you pointed out such crummy wonders
as the south-bound northern line, yeah, that’s
I straight-out treasure your for not being
anybody’s poster girl, for telling me
this isn’t yours to carry when my pity would’ve
made you other than my bunch-of-fives-brilliant
friend. For scraping a C and not giving a shit,
sitting up on the banks in the tinfoil foolscap
silver dawn, having not slept and watching
the Thames wink and ribbon out like urgent telex.
I admire you most for the beefy realness
of your arms around my shoulders
when I told my life, and how you left, going
home, because it is your home, because fuck
London and its genteel queerness, theories of pride
with a small p and dancercise. Happy birthday, Merry.
I wanted you to know that I think of you, that when
I think of you I realise signing and writing and crying
are not enough, that I’m still trying to change my life.