What we do

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Tonight,
I will make my way to you
        again.

All night we will talk &
drink wine, while outside
twilight will silently deny
colour to the flowers of your garden.

Inside, we’ll remain ignorant
of all this save
for some ineffable sense of
        absence,

as we talk & laugh.
drink wine & then,
                perhaps,
we’ll fuck.

It’ll be fun
but through it all,
a loneliness will prevail:

The distance between us
is too vast to measure, & we
know that it won’t last forever.

Why do we do this to each other?

The Graveyard

For S

You took me to a graveyard.

We walked arm in arm through the dark and you told me you had to leave soon. The day that lay behind us, the day I’d spent in your presence, felt like something that shouldn’t belong to me.

We walked for a little while, talking, asking the interrogative little questions new lovers always ask; submitting ourselves to judgement.

The graveyard was large, and it was old. The wide, winding pathways were sparsely illuminated by a few deep-orange lights glowing gently from black Victorian street lamps. Trees towered above us, impassive and silent, waiting and watching over the corpses buried beneath them.

“You can tell this graveyard is old,” I said “that it was built by people who didn’t try to hide from death like we do now…the benches, the trees and flowers…this was made to be a place for the living as well as the dead.”

“Yeah, I think I know what you mean: the graves are such big, decorative things; something for strangers to admire…I suppose when death is more prevalent, it makes no sense to try to hide from it. But is it really better that we’re no longer so familiar with the dead? Anyway, speaking of benches, I can’t see one anywhere nearby, shall we just sit down somewhere here?”

So we sat down; a cold stone surface beneath us and a square structure behind us. I couldn’t quite see it, but I know that in the darkness our eyes met. My gaze, so often unbearably dazed and blinded, like a moth bouncing against a light-bulb, was heavy with the warmth that can only come from covetous attention. A flash of white told me that you were smiling. I wanted to keep talking to you about death but your smile made me forget everything, so instead I just smiled back at you.

We talked some more; elaborating the sketches of ourselves that we would finally hand to the other, incomplete, at the end of the night. You talked about how shy you used to be, said something about feeling like ‘a wall-flower gone wrong’. I protested that you were no such thing. I wanted to tell you that to me you seemed like a once-wistful child who lived by their dreams; dreams that would have lifted you up and far away from here, like a petal on the wind, if only you hadn’t been pinned down when you were young; pinned by something that would not let you go. I wanted to tell you that beneath your kindness and self-effacement, beneath your beautiful, placid surface, there were endless depths. I wanted to tell you that you were strong, that you were wonderful.

Instead I told you that you were pretty: your smile made me forget everything, and I forgot not to be so shallow and simple.

I no longer remember what else I said after, because soon we began to kiss.

It started to rain.

Sometimes the Universe grants us more than we deserve: as your hair tangled between my fingers, as your body, long and soft, twisted beneath my hands, rapturous desire flooded the filthy gutters of my veins.

I was Prometheus and you were the fire I had stolen. Fuck the gods; they could have my liver later, I didn’t care because I had their fire, and I wanted more of you. So I said:

“Shall we fuck in a graveyard, in the rain?”


I drink too much.

I drink too much because I can’t stand myself unless what ever ‘myself’ is can be blunted; worn-down at the edges so that the centre can be penetrated and briefly change into something else, something bearable. Ever since my heart was broken, I have been a drunk. That, at least, is what I tell myself. If it strikes you as utter bullshit, I’d be inclined to agree. All alcoholics are self-pitying creatures, and it’s far too easy to be sentimental when you’re drunk all the time.

So as the trees silently looked on, I lifted your jumper and traced my fingers across your skin, trailed kisses down to your stomach, then asked you to fuck me.

It wasn’t that you didn’t want to: I know enough to recognise that look in the eyes, but there in the rain, upon a tomb, the cold and unyielding ground beneath us…

You didn’t need to tell me “No”, your body did that for you, and so we untangled.

I asked how much longer we could stay together. You had time enough time to sit with me a while.

My Ego is an easily wounded creature, especially one that seeks the glorious abyss of post-fuck bliss with such fervour as mine. It’s another, better, way to change myself for a while and to purge the words that plague me from my mind, but the foolish desire for sex quickly began to leave. I felt like what I was: lost. I placed my head in your lap and you began to play with my hair, a scene I have replayed over and over again during all the years of my exile. I was searching with faint desperation for reprieve from my life as it had become, searching for that feeling, the one that left me when I was young and that I have ached for ever since.

I could feel the pace of your heartbeat increasing.

Words were needed, perfect, benevolent words to seal the moment and save it from the risk of indignity, because I couldn’t stand the thought of our day together becoming just one more fading memory. I wanted permanence, petulantly: the permanence of the moment in all its beauty and ugliness, in all its safety and discomfort…I wished for nothing more than for it to last forever, and to never be condemned to the tomb of my memory again.

The only words I could summon came from someone else. I have no way of knowing if you understood exactly what I meant by them. I don’t think I understand exactly what I meant by them either.

A silence crept between us. For a while it was comforting, but then I began to worry that the peacefulness was about to end.

“I want to expire,” I said “here, in this place, in this moment, in your arms. I want to sigh and release and then…go.”

“But why?”

“Because that way I can’t ruin it…I want forever, or I want the end of everything.”

You laughed and told me I was silly, but your touch seemed a little gentler.

Then, you told me you had to leave. So we stood up, collected our things, and began to walk away.

We walked in silence, until you turned to me and said “I’m going to return here someday, in the daylight. I’m going to come back to that spot and read the names on the gravestone we sat on…I want to know the names, the time in which the dead were alive. I want to imagine what they were like, whether they once took someone here to walk arm in arm with and to talk to just like we have.”

I didn’t reply, only held your hand.

Our synchronised footsteps began to slow their pace as the graveyard gates came into view. Suddenly you stopped and pulled my hand towards you. In two quick movements we were pressed together, kissing again. I pulled back and looked at your face, so inexpressibly beautiful beneath the night sky and the soft rainfall.

You smiled and looked away.

Without thinking I said “If I could, I’d have people performing the most indecent acts imaginable on my grave. What better way is there to laugh at death?”

We didn’t laugh.

We lingered, hand in hand, but since there was nothing else left to do but separate, we said our goodbyes and you walked away from me.

I watched you leaving, but before your body faded into a silhouette I turned and left:

I didn’t want to ever know if you looked back as well.

Momento from the full moon

For A

Once
I loved someone,
in the same way,
& for the same reason
I love the moon:

you don’t need to see it every day,
to know that you’ll see it again;
you can’t always see it, but
you know it’ll always be there…

…& then
months became years & those years
became the unnoticed mouldering kiss;
a distance turning stale,
old & cold as the
empty bed.

So lonely not knowing how to explain
until too late,
& strange to find how changed
the feeling is when found again;

the pain so far away

just like the Moon.

Eros & Philia

The city lights conspiring to hide
the cold shimmer of starlight from our eyes;
walks together: a flower & it’s thorns,
sharing our thoughts,
secrets, fears & feelings,

each the other’s mirror
using silk to remove any marks that
prevented us from seeing clearly &
the resulting electrostatic charge
binding us together.

All of this
& more
is a gift,

& every poem I give you
is an attempt to make amends
for being no more than
                   an unremarkable,
undeserving
                   mammal.

A dream I think I once had

You smoked a cigarette beside me
in the passenger seat of my car
in the dark, in the park one night

a lifetime ago.
 
You said: “We are born,
we do stuff
& then we die.

That’s all…

I wish I could, but
I just can’t make myself care
that much anymore…”

Spectral blue curls billowed out
from between the clumsy teeth inside
of your beautiful mouth,
& attempted to dance with those lengths
of false-coloured hair
you absently caressed.

You had an affinity for dysfunction,
you told me:

“I thrive among the broken things”
 
& I remember thinking
that it was fucked-up
how much I wished I was more fucked-up
than I already was.
 
I wanted too much:

I wanted your love.

Nothing else seemed important,
not the the future, not improvement,
not hope
or the vast tracts of free & unfettered time
that lay before us.

Eventually,
I drove you home.

Nothing much had happened
yet somehow it still felt significant.

After you had left me, as
I sat staring into the darkness,
the smell of smoke & your presence
lingered

& I was overcome
by sensation so intense,
that all that has followed since

feels like dull disappointment…

 

(This story is fiction, only the stories that composed it are true)