A POEM CELEBRATING SOME THINGS THAT DON’T WORK

Acrostics. Academia. Balancing work, life and a healthy sleep schedule. Breaking up in your head with people you don’t even go out with. Confessing to your first love at the wrong place and time. Denial when you don’t mean it. Even if you do mean it, does that really work? English as second tongue. Editing. First strikes when you don’t have the time to think them through. Fuck as a vulgarity, not a noun. Falling into love at first sight – how cliché. Generosity just because people ask. Honesty when no-one does. I as a singular noun. I as a concept. Just joking, fake philosophy and pseudo-spiritualism. Jamming words together to sieve out poetry. Kafkaesque as a word. Keto. Listing out words and calling it poetry. Laying out scenes and calling it love. Lying about the writing process. Love as an independent variable. Misreading the Tao Te Ching as Dao De Jing. Making an audience hum while sober. Memory loss. Monkdom. Never making the first move. Or just being content with letting things slip. Or just being content with repeating yourself. Orientialism as a concept in the 21st century. Pretending to be woke when you’re still asleep. Puns that no-one appreciates. Puns disguised as poetry. Quokkas. Quips about things no-one cares about. Quantum theory. Running to lose weight. Rote memorisation. Rhymes that don’t rhyme. Lines that ruin your form. Short-term memory loss. Slaying your daddy unironically. Slaying as a concept at all. To be honest about things that you’ve never thought about. Thinking about things that you’ve never thought about. Thinking about people 24/7 that you’ve just met. Thinking. Underestimating when love can strike. Overestimating when it does. Forgetting to keep to form again. Uniqueness as a selling point. ‘Valen’-themed lines because really, how many times do those work? Writing poems to people who will not read them. X starting any word other than xenagogue. You spilling your personal life into groups of 5000 strangers, give or take. Zen Buddhism, but as an aesthetic. Zealotry, but only for self-destruction. Endings without satisfactory closure

spwm day 16

IN THIS STORY, YOU SAYING HOW YOU FEEL “ALL RIGHT” IS NOT A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

In this dream, you shed your skin
and cast away your leather wings;
from your pockets, spill these things –
antiplatelet medicines,

Clopidogrel, Aspirin.
Warfarin, for battles within.
In another, I hold your chin
and nothing else. Come, unspin

this long dream of safety pins
and other stories, wherein
the might of the might-have-been
becomes the force that underpins

the breath of your life worn thin.
In my dream: we swap our skins
you and I, identical twins,
draped in the light of Kuan Yin,

lost in the mist of has-beens
and has-nots, the lines blurring
like your life – now, a tailspin.
I memorise your next-of-kin,

my final act of discipline.
In this dream, we both begin
realizing: that being
alive’s the holiest sin –

prisoners, of human skin.

Spwm day 14

13 Superstitions for a Damsel in Distress

On the backstreet home, watch out for black
cats stalking your footsteps. Don’t step in
puddles with your high-heeled horseshoes:
the clack draws all sorts of bad folk. Knock
on wooden doors along the way – let them
know you are there, once, or twice:
unexpected deaths come in threes.
Ring every bell – let chimes cover you,
light the path home, keep watch.
Needless to say, avoid the ladders.
They take you nowhere useful enough,
except upwards. Pennies on roads
are only shiny traps – they are not worth it.
Likewise, check both ways when you cross
your fingers, or your reflection in street
windows. Shatter them if necessary.
Take a photo if you must, to save your soul.
Let the itch of your palm be a prayer that you’re home.
Salt the door. Let relief open like an umbrella.

spwm day 13

From Z to A, A Lovebound Zoetrope Trips In Her First Pair of Dancing Shoes

jazz, booze, brazen pizzazz, zouks daze, putz rezones
contemporary votary youth. yell, yes, yourself yearns
inexpert, co-existing, bemixed jukebox. next, proxy
‘howdy’ – who, which fellow, why? walleyed, worship
quivers: reserve leaves, salvation arrives volubly,
requests. puzzled, you jumble, quake, jumped-gun.
mother, tortoised beneath table, watches daughter’s social,
reminisces pregnancies. warns – his compass veers
otherwise. overprotective, mother stereotypes:
quiff-wearing queer, queasy antiquation, quite passe.
palpably, pulse presses pata-pata, peekaboos
into down-linen intercourse, lip-top soon drowsed – or
not. never. necking? non-zero chance – nonetheless
mother’s wisdom must remain germane. men times
love equals feelings leaking, trickle following slit. lies:
look. seek quickened love-struck awkward skin-on-skin
jam. conjugate. join. enjoy – rejoice, jambe-de-air.
in totality, girl finds rapidity, spins in pirouette,
that, huzzah, her who-knows-which left-behind
girlhood goes exploring, willingly digs aground
feeling, finally finds freedom from family.
ena – tie her, leave her behind.
deny mothermade denigrations:
cha-cha, cowboy, compass. come,
be bound. bare brazen breast. but
absolve all fear. fall – learn affection. dance.


spwm day 11
every word in each line shares a common letter.

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 

LOVE GIVES WAY

on the elevator she steps aside,
lets others into the gantries first.
she hasn’t seen a mirror in years:
in the dark, she feels about
her shape, is satisfied with being.
what was her name?
she knew it was a saint’s.
it just had to be.
in the dark she swallows
even without being asked.
she’s used to it –
the familiar samsara
of hiding and regurgitating
clicks in her hands like a rosary.
extinct, creatures re-emerge
from her bosom. she’d lay
eggs if she needed to,
let these children
burrow into her flesh.
because everyone,
everyone needs some hope,
she scribbles on her arm.
how many times? she sleeps
under a shroud of ink.
last week she ordained
the marriage of adam and eve.
tomorrow she’ll turn into
mother teresa
because deep down inside
she craves to be
her second coming.
a bead snaps underfoot.
her mouth is ever shut:
beneath the veneer
of pavement teeth,
a long tongue
coils about
old meat,
never letting up,
never letting go.

spwm18 day 4.