Survivor

I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
The wreckage.
Collateral, damaged
In the fallout
Of a truly
Decadent society
That looked up to its
Graven images,
Photoshopped.
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Lifestyles.
Just me – a bunch of
Bad habits
And under the rubble,
One drug-addled
Rock guitarist.
Perhaps if we put our
Heads together
We can try
To find words
To remember.

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The Secret Ingredient

The girl that cooks bakes cake and pies
And plays at house and tells no lies
That can’t be wriggled into line
Parading truth and saving time

The girl that cooks makes soup and stews
That chase away the taste of blues
Her kitchen hums with spitting fat
She works and cleans and strokes the cat

The girl that cooks whips up dessert
And bandages the parts that hurt
When all the world is making war
She’s tossing aubergines in flour

The girl that cooks is canny, chaste
Her sauces never go to waste
No eggs are dropped, no milk gets spilt
Her apron strings are edged with gilt

The girl that cooks with fiery flame
Whose every nuance tastes the same
Is ready with another dish
To feed you meaty, wholesome fish

The girl that cooks is clever too
She knows what suits won’t always do
When with a smirk upon your lips
You peck her brow and grip her hips

The girl that cooks in every room
Will not be left alone so soon
While every mouthful, reels you in
You’re caught within her roasting tin

The girl that cooks must take the blame
For ruining your filthy name
Enticing you with food so fair
You hung your hat and took a chair

Inner Peace

Lie to me, I beg of you
Tell me pretty tales untrue
Undermine my eyes and ears
Petty crime to soothe my tears

Hide what truths I must not see
Lest their enchantment undo me
In Plato’s cave may I reside
Until I crave the world outside

An oath for thee, Hippocrates

Passion curling from the wires
Humours, good and ill
Twisting up in wordless fires
To smoke the mind until

All dessicated, one by one
Each thought is slowly drained
As ears are filled with shovelled dung
And feelings feeling maimed

Then comes the call to end all such
Unpleasant fractious whine
The final straw, when all – too much
Has built up over time

A gentle coo, a saving grace
Is whispered from above
And slowly turn with pained face
To greet the one we love

Ah, blessed biscuit, sacred tea
More skilled at healing’s art
Than Panacea’s family
When all has split apart

Plato’s model

The likely days and nights that pass
reflecting in my mind’s cool glass
the happiness I would enjoy
with him I choose to be my boy
my twin, my heart, my other soul,
once split-apart, now makes me whole
but walking through the world I know
has brought me little but sorrow.
The one I recognized as such,
who made me laugh and pleased me much
did leave me sad and quite forlorn,
and crying even, when withdrawn
my source of love now quite unknown
chose once again to be alone.
Then did I find thee, gentle friend
who knowing I had reached wits’ end
did comfort me, and let me grow
before forcing your heart to show.
Thus all was done in goodly time
with pleasant passings, sweetened vine
now riper, richer, more mature
in this, as some, less can be more.
So I have found my split-apart,
saved grace, built home, and mended heart.

Generic post-breakup analysis (hers)

I love your mem’ry more
Than what you were to me in life.
Though I still daydream daily
Of my role then as your wife.
I tried to do my duty
Did the best job that I could.
I think we just weren’t meant to last
Our match was not too good.
I, far too jealous would become
Without you by my side,
And you would feel quite suffocated
By my endless pride.
We’d rub each other constantly
‘Til fur would start to fly,
Then I would comfort you in shame
Each time you’d start to cry.
We never solved our problems
And yet argued without end.
I loved you as a mother
You preferred me as a friend.
So everything imploded
As things came to quite a head.
I never got to blow my top –
My reason turned you red.
We parted with great sorrow,
But, with also great relief.
For separation somehow,
Despite distance, caused no grief.
I can’t forget my lover,
Though I hear you have moved on.
We hurt each other deeply
And these feelings won’t begone.
I cannot wish you evil,
That would go against the grain.
But with your joy, I counsel
That you also bear some pain.
For one without the other,
No sense can it construct,
As concepts out of balance:
Sep’rate are just fucked.

The end of the affair

What now feels like a very long time ago, I said an unwilling goodbye to a friend of mine. Not one of those ‘I’ll see you when you come to your senses’ goodbyes, but a full-on, permanent, ‘Nevermore in this world’. The boy in question had chosen, without telling anyone, to shuffle off this mortal coil. I had just moved house, so I got given the good news several months after the event via his mother, who in the chaos of her own grief, had managed to lose my address.
For various reasons, for which I later felt extremely guilty, I was unable to visit. I had missed the funeral, and in any case, I didn’t really know his family that well, so I wasn’t comfortable intruding on their grief to assuage my own.
Mourning is a strange, and very personal process. People do it in all sorts of different ways. The letter I received from his mother on black-edged notepaper was testament to how well she was faring under tremendous pressure. It took me three hours to decipher the handwriting, let alone allow the meaning of her words to sink in. I spent those three hours in the laundry-room in the basement of the building, with a pile of rapidly diminishing dirty washing, deafened by the noise of the industrial-sized machines, slowly coming to the realization that I would never see my friend again. Life would not be the same without him.
Letting go of someone who has been an almost daily long-distance fixture in your life for several years is difficult. As we were living in different countries, we mainly spoke via the net or by post, usually in the evenings. That year he had been transferred by work to another location just before I moved house, so there had been a break in communications while we both sorted our lives out, during which we sent each other a couple of brief postcards, but nothing serious in the way of deep and meaningful communication. I had no clue he was depressed. None whatsoever. His actions came as a complete shock to me.
You read all sorts of stories about suicides in the papers, usually villifying their so-called friends who were too wrapped up in their own lives and problems to notice someone they cared about was losing the struggle with theirs, and you wonder whether they chose the path they did because you were a bad friend…?
Survivor guilt is not limited to extreme situations such as war or genocide. It occurs in daily life as part of the grieving process. You wonder about the strangest things. ‘There but for the grace of… what? Why wasn’t it me and not him?’ You puzzle over personality traits, ponder what makes someone strong, whether suicide means strength or weakness… These internal debates can last a lifetime without you discovering the answers, and if you let them, they can take over your life.
His mother gave me some strange advice at the end of her letter. She told me to forget all about her son, to ignore what had happened, and to go on with my own life, to live it to the full and to follow all my dreams.
I read her letter over and over for three weeks before I replied to it. I couldn’t find words to say what needed to be said, and nor could I reconcile what needed saying for the sake of convention with what I wanted to say.
I was angry at her for telling me to forget my friend. I couldn’t understand why she would demand that I obliterate all trace of someone who had already left the land of the living. I wondered at the time if she was ashamed of what had happened. I wondered if she was worried as a Catholic about the eternal damnation of her determinedly and avowedly atheist son. I wondered about a lot of things, and I took his photos off the wall in my study and put them in the back of my diary.
I carried him with me for five years, occasionally taking them out to look at them and remember. To remember his advice, his smile, the crazy things he did when he was drunk. To try not to forget, not to let go. I wanted some memory of him to stay with me, a souvenir for this world of a friendship long since dissolved.
And now I have put the diary in a drawer. Somehow I know that I no longer need to carry these physical remnants from the life of someone who is still very much a part of me. I have memories (albeit blurry ones these days) of him which will eventually fade, and I am content to let them do so. I know that he made his mark on the world because he made his mark on me, on my personality, and I need no greater reminder. The way that my mind continues to work is tribute enough.
Goodnight, mon chevalier,
ta princesse
Katherine

Redemption

I gave to you what you needed
At a time your need was great.
I promised you such sweetness
To wipe away all hate.

I willingly, not blindly
Devoted time and care.
And gifted you with hope for us
And things we both could share.

A kiss may mean a promise
A bargain there was met
I’ll honour it in fullness
But still I shan’t forget.

I took you on my journey
I helped you find your way.
I guided you through life when
Darkness was leading you astray.

And yet you do not see me
Do not know my name
For you were my redemption
And honour was the game.

And now the journey’s over
And you strong as before.
Yet my quest has not ended.
I must go on once more.

I’ll leave you now in sunlight
With gifts for you to give
I wish you well, but I must go
Another life to live.

I’ll kiss you as in parting
And point you on your way
Though you may fear your heart will break
Your strength will show today.

The kiss I gave, a bargain.
I did what I could do.
I now must travel my own path,
The rest is up to you.

Homecoming

A love I knew that flew away
While I grew up, returned today
And with him brought, to my surprise
A smile I knew, and two brown eyes,
A bubbling laugh, not from his chest,
But from his heart, you know the rest.
I could not see, though eyes were wide.
I don’t know why – perhaps I cried?
But glad I was, to find him thus:
So filled with joy, though not for us,
My black-heart-monster, ever grave,
Yawned and crawled back to his cave.
I loved him then, I love him still,
Yet find I bear him no ill will.
Despite the pain of losing you;
For he did what he had to do.
And now we’ve grown – how strange it seems;
This shadow once did haunt my dreams,
But he has gone, and in his wake
A moment’s silence I shall take.
To mourn his passing, shed my tears,
Look back fondly on the years.
Then put aside these wounds – now mild,
And join in laughter with his child.

Pucker up

A kiss may conjure many things,
Some dream of lust, others of rings.
A sleeping princess, it awakes,
A cut-knee mends, a promise breaks.
And all these thoughts occur to me
To see you there upon one knee,
Knowing, though ignorance was bliss,
This whole world turned, upon your kiss.