ode to first strikes

oh, monday morning,
you gave me no warning
of what was to be: the unlikely story,
here we are, orbiting outside space
of closed bar, between us a bridge,
both of us victims of some violence:
you, the first stone cast, the queen
dethroned, me, the first to leave,
a nomad in this empty echo.
you look the same as in my head.
my hands latch onto your Viceroys,
finger smoke for the first time.
the first time I’ve held a lit cigarette
like a lifeline to shore, your smoke
trails dragging me into revised
histories. I spill my glass of beans,
fill you in on my first rebellion.
I burn myself on one, so I light
another, a torch to guide the way
into your night, the years you’ve
spent alone, compared to my
six years of dragging feet
like a long-drawn narrative &
you told me I should have
acted faster, even if I wasn’t.
we cried together and I set
my stone in the river. it sinks.
subsequently, another revival,
toeing two lines, reaching out
to another. after all these years of my cowardice,
you struck first. it was all good. let’s get shitfaced.

spwm day 8 


I am the first to awaken the first pod to crack open I am the unfortunate accident 90 years too early I am the lonely man the first man the first man to walk 90 years too early I am a system malfunction of a man I am the ship and its pods and the cracking I am silent I am cruise through asteroid belt I am in isolation malfunction in space isolated I am despondent I am an engineer engineering the fastest route to Nirvana 90 years too early I am the hammer cracking you open Aurora I am smitten I am reviving you I am revival I am sperm egg zygote I am your malfunction lonely man unfortunate accident 90 years too early I am devastated lying Scheffler in a pod floating through space I am the place/space in space/race only man in this space/race unfortunate I am prepared to die with or without you I am dying 90 years too early I am being written into your book covers closing like pod doors like millenniums like Buddha’s palms I am the We in the contrived ending I am sperm egg zygote Homestead and Avalon 90 years too early I am hammer glass shatter penetration penetration I am devastated in a pod floating through revival I am an engineer engineering Nirvana dying lying through space 90 years too early malfunction sperm smitten written malfunction unfortunate Aurora unfortunate revival 90 years too early Aurora Aurora Aurora

spwm day 6
For context:

Full Life Plan 1999

Finally, you’ve found me.
No, sorry: I don’t have all the answers.
The ones I do – hoverboards don’t exist.
Yes, you grow even taller. You become
taller than even Father. No, I’m still single.
Yes, you get to buy Power Rangers CDs.
Yes, there’s still Pokémon, and yes,
Ash still hasn’t won the league. I know.
You kept asking me then, with your 20/20
innocence. I obliged – but there are
answers to questions you haven’t asked.
I hold these in the purse of my lips.

For instance:

The secret to success is bitcoin,
but I know you haven’t learnt to add yet.
Truth be told, neither have I.
So you will have to work it out.
You will end up moving 3 times
but forever stay in the North,
your world revolving around the same scenes.
You never learnt to say I love you
enough, the great irony of your namesake
so you keep its reverb in your mouth
until your tongue learns its shape.
No, he doesn’t survive to see your marriage.
Your first and last
suicide attempt happens in 2012,
but you feared dying so you slit your ankle instead.
The scar, shaped like a crescent moon.
And how your future
is so, so bright
in spite of the sum
total of your mistakes.

But I know you haven’t learnt to add.
There’s so much I want to do
but I know every act I take
warps the world ever slightly,
every word a wand,
every line a sentence,
every act an equation.
So, I write this, hide this in your
safest space, between your
childhood’s diary and
the last photo album in history:

to the me of 1999,
rush on, headstrong.
Hurt yourself a few times. Let pain
flower the fruits of love. Taste it.
Let it nourish you, evolve, grow –
multiply. I’ll be waiting for you, you know.

spwm day 5

Guide to Cleaning

First of all, throw what you don’t need.
Do not recycle – save this poison
from the Earth. No more travel
brochures, guides, photos.
No more newspaper clippings
of dream destinations.
Those only breed silverfish.

Next, make a commitment. Never let
clutter in again. Do not let it stay. Do not
let it set. No more corkboard
of old friendships, notes from a
forgotten era. No more escapist fantasy.
No more dried roses elegy. No more
of last year’s birthday cards, printed
poems, Men’s Health studies. No lies.
No more remembrance. No more polaroids.
Those are only made for you to buy into.

Lastly – stick to it. When you stir in
the dawn: jump, shout – become greater.
The sun is but a cleaning lady, gently
knocking on your windows. Jump. Jump.
Do not let her in. Leave these weights behind.
This mess is but your own to mold.
No more piano in the darkness, ragtime
Fur Elise, single ivory key running away.
No more poems about departures, love
or the loss of it. No more loss. No more loss.
No accompaniment. No thing. No soup spoon
at your parchment table. No taste. No feeling.
No napkin when you’re done.
Those are only there to give;
give the illusion of closure.

Following the Last Act


When the curtains fall -that’s it.
Well, everything ends eventually.
So, there isn’t any real meaning to it.
No extended metaphor. The only conceit
is mine. The story just ends, its characters,
presumably, not having learnt any better,
and people may or may not like the ending.
That is OK.

Personally, I’d rather the end be some coherent,
overarching image, one that I can wrap myself with
like a blanket. Something clear-cut and/or
emotional, like calls from telemarketers, so
I know adequately how to react. “Hello is this-
NO, THANK YOU!” Or if these things came with
a bowtie and at least asked for your name first. I guess
I just wanted someone to give me stage instructions,
like: “look shocked!” Or look “absolutely miserable.”
A script to memorise and execute to the letter.

But still some signs swim beneath the skin
and spur me. There is a goldfish in my wrist.
I feel fireflies running down my back like a cape
and the curtain is drawn ad nauseum.
In my chest is a round of applause.
In my eardrum there is a telemarketer,
dialling the same number over and over again.
There are tadpoles in my fingers, toads in my toes and

I feel like I want to dance now.
I feel like I want to dance
even when all the lights are off.
I want to dance like nobody is watching.
But I know you are. You always are.
The fairy sitting on the mantle, here
but not here. You have taken stage front
and centre forever. Every character
has the face of you. You are every
seat in the audience, every line spoken,
every rose thrown, every bow taken –
yet you are no encore.
You are not your own sequel.
The only conceit is mine.

So, thank you.
But I’m going to burn you, this poem –
so make sure you read it.
Read it, for me.

Written for Epilogue Slam 2017