I can’t go anywhere without breaking something he owns.
Last month it was only small things, the Polaroid camera
dropped mid-flash. The gaudy lamp in two pieces
like a melon lopped in half. Last week it was his suitcase
on the Underground at Old Street. Clunked down an escalator,
handle snapped clean off as I flustered down the metal steps,
weaving Sorry, Sorry, past vacant commuters.
I carried the insides home, presented them like a dejected cat
with a vole, said Sorry (again). I wonder if I dare
have something of him close at all times, something
I don’t want to break, or have topple down a lift shaft,
when I’m not looking.
Through logged skies and airports
we are completely apart
except for the same digits on our clocks,
that shared time.
You are a chicken on a pole, slowly roasted.
I am clouds. Dazed. Mostly mist
as I float around London
without anything to stabilise me.
So I look at eel shops. Try to decide whether it’s worth
two-hundred-quid to rent for your birthday.
You eat basil ice cream in a restaurant; overlook children
playing in dust and sand. Make friends with strange people
from Essex who do not believe you come from Stoke
your accent so posh, your job: important. “A Writer?”
Tonight I sit in England and scry your name in leaves,
branches. It’s urban palmistry. Headlights are your eyes.
In Portugal your mother asks about your girlfriend.
In London, our friends order drugs for the weekend
and I start to wash the walls, paint white over magnolia.
London is all brick and hidden lives. The call at night
of late buses blaring at kids who smoke, hack coughs,
puke up on their feet while eying each other up
always in pursuit of their next, nearest, fuck.
I wonder if we will grow up. Forget
the satisfaction gained from the chase, the dizziness
of booze-filled lives. If we’ll ever lie back on a stone wall
watch a satellite disintegrate in the atmosphere
and think okay, yes, that’s enough.
Modern love is not told in paper
but the pixels in a face trapped
and peering out, bound in comments,
tagged with us. Click, see friendship,
it is you and I, December, ‘in a relationship’,
flicking between pictures
from when we first met.
Forty-three people have liked
our solid-state love. Kiss kiss.
Heart heart. Smiley face.
Facebook is like a photo album
for the mind and more forgetful.
It collects what we do not.
In March we shift to, ‘it’s complicated’.
(Acquaintances, not friends,
the people there to bolster numbers
and educate in networking, click
It always ends.
we are ‘single’.
Facebook has updated but we are still
in this state;
you find three messages from a boy
that has been in my head for two months.
Spend our days stalking
clicking through the photos of each other
that now hold alien men where once
we were two halves of mussel shells.
as salt dough to sweet.
We send niceties. Discuss politics. Say hello.
Someone finds an old disposable camera
from a trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach,
they upload it and tag us,
kissing with rock between our mouths
like lady and the tramp, but trampier.
You can trace the history
of real life, of us, of ourness
through MySQL databases,
notes, see friendship, click,
like, click, love,
click, love. Click, account.
An unwashed plate; we break two glasses half-emptied with wine and our Rioja stained mouths; time washes us in seconds that turn to days. Sunday, night; I sleep with my back turned to breath-sounds and the noise of silence. A hand curls around my hipbone; I shift away, a visitor in my quilts and the guilt of not-knowing-why. Head drums a beat of no, no, no. We do not make love. You try, and I insist. My mind is a curled up rosebud retreating. “There is nothing to be stressed about.” Instead say: Why are you stressed? What’s wrong? I’m sorry. It’s okay. I love you.
Wake in the morning and weigh your heart
against hangover scales and remnant palms.
Do not wash to hold him against your skin
sigh and feel the weight of everything …
As another comes with blue-eyed guilt, bed
dressed in morning grubbery in your mind,
hear his nonsense sounds and taste, smell,
feel the reek of his five a.m. breath. Kiss
let the image shift, ripple, flex, awash again
with dew-dawn, on a cliff looking out at sea
as two bodies bring in the sun and sink
inside, retreat your hands behind your ribcage
with fear and text, text your other-love
with furious hands as though he can tell
through satellites and instant-time
what you have done. Give him extra kisses.
When he replies with just one,
give him none.
on wet grains,
the sea wipes sand
like rain across glass.
They sit under a tartan rug
hands down pants, fondling
as the fire cracks and chatter
spit-spurts between dark silhouettes
and ghoulish uplit faces.
They squeeze and pretend
that nothing is happening.
people leave, one by one,
and they remain alone
with the sea, gunblack,
which throws and turns,
a humongous tongue,
They walk, hold hands
and kiss between rocks.
The water laps at their ankles;
stars stab white
in an upturned black basin.
as kisses turn from lips
to skin, to cloth and back,
the sea rushes forwards and retreats
a metronome to their throws.
Two sets of footsteps
stretch from rock to cove
where bent forwards,
they take turns.
Look through March rain veils
into sunscapes and green, green, woodland.
Take the pinch of reality and throw it behind you.
Do not let the other Megabus passengers see.
Swallow a Fisherman’s Friend and travel.
Tannoys tinkle and it is three tomorrows
away and soaked in eucalyptus and tanging almost-pain.
Shudders turn to slipping lullabies
and windows open portal-wide
and now, breathe,
count to three … one … two …
and it is the turn for your eyes.
You have arrived.
Another man, dressed in imaginary nights
and dancing is waiting.
Hand him your lover’s last words on his tongue
and with your other, take a strand of his fairy hair.
Do not let the world tug you back.
Let him reach into his pocket and untuck a compact mirror
coated in the colour of heartache.
Take back your smile.