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  Apr 21 Grace
Gabriel
i have started to see my life
in shades of pink.
these days, it's all sunsets
and grapefruits
and a little extra blush
on a summer evening.

my life has never been
pink before. i have hit every pixel
on the colour wheel,
but never pink. never
smoked salmon mornings
and raspberries for lunch
and cranberry lemonade.
never happy; now happy.

one day soon, my life will be purple
as usual. close to blue,
closer to red, hitting the sweet
spot and resting there. close
to pink. closest to pink.
one day, when mania is over
and summer evenings
become autumn afternoons,
i will keep the pink in my pocket
and carry it everywhere.
Grace Jan 29
So what if I don’t die?

What if five years into the future,
it’s a warmer day in January
and my heart is still beating
and I’m breathing the same air,
placing my feet on the same ground
I’ve walked so many times before?

The end of the world is that bit closer
and I’m far too old for all the first times
but I still haven’t done any of the things
I was meant to do when I was ten years younger.

I’m twenty-nine, nearly three whole decades old
and nothing to show for it, bar the degree shut up
in the cupboard where I keep my obsolete jumpers
and the four hundred pages of poetry that reads like
one long suicide note that I couldn’t figure out how to end.

Perhaps there’s monotony; perhaps there’s pain and work;
perhaps things are simply worse;
I’ve gone easy sliding back into the disaster zone:
I’ve seen it happen all the time.

And so what if I don’t die and things go right?

I’m a real grown up person with a mind that’s ordered
and I do what I love and I’ve found someone to love
and we’ve somehow saved the world and I’m
happy, happy, happy.

It's a limp, ill-defined notion:
I cannot fill in the detail or
add in the words between the lines.
By which I mean it’s not real.
It’s not real, it’s not real.

So what if I don’t die and I’ve pinned all my hopes on it
and all I’m left with is the bland joy of spotting
the egret or the kingfisher when I’m out on my walks
or the bland peace of sometimes visiting the island
if only for the sake of recalling the days
when other futures still seemed possible?
sorry for not posting in many years; still here writing all the sad poems
  Jan 29 Grace
Gabriel
i grieve the girl in the summer dress in late may,
i grieve the mourning doves,
i grieve the ice lolly stained teeth and the way the sun was hotter in 2005,
i grieve the dew on the grass that stuck to paddling pool legs.

i attended the funeral of a little girl
when i decided to no longer be one.
i attended the funeral of summer
sometime last november, a little
closed casket affair for something i had to freeze
in the morgue before i was ready to let go.

i mourn the tired christmases and birthdays
and the excitement of the night before.
i mourn clothes set out on bedroom floors
and perfectly-made outfits for school trips.
i mourn the entirety of primary school
and wonder if the rainbow fish works a corporate job now.

i lost my faith somewhere between the pews
of my holy communion, but i got a pretty
green set of rosary beads and a bouncy castle
and an episode of doctor who so terrifying
that i made my eldest sister sleep in my room.
i lost my other sister, with whom i talk to now on tired
christmases and birthdays, just after
she spent all afternoon completing game achievements
that my young hands and daylight-savings-attention-span
couldn’t achieve by themselves.

when i was younger, i was smaller
but the stars were closer.
when i was younger, i was barriered in suncream
and each swimming pool at a caravan resort
was the ocean in a friendly disguise.
when i was younger, i lived
a lunchables life with soft serve ice cream for dessert
every day, and it was far too beautiful
to be beautiful in anything but hindsight.

now, i check myself for wrinkles;
it’s the only time i can look in the mirror.
sometimes i see her, five or seventeen,
and i say “that’s my girl.”
i cannot let her know of the mourning that will come.
i cannot let her claim me as her future
but i will hold her soft, small palms
and pretend that i am doing the leading.
  Jan 27 Grace
Gabriel
that night, i wore a polo shirt.
i thought hey, i'm going to a friend's
dorm, no need to dress up, right?

so i wore a polo shirt, a yellow and blue and pink
thing. i'd bought it from a charity shop
only weeks earlier, when i was still exploring
a new university town
and finding not-so-hidden gems;
and sure, it was three sizes too big
but it was comfortable, and made me feel safe.

turns out, you didn't care about polo shirts
or tank tops. you cared about what was underneath
and i was drunk enough to let you - or,
well, not really let you, but i didn't need to dress up
so i wore baggy clothes and a smile
so i had half a bottle of jack daniels
and i had a nineteen year old point to prove
and i had a pill that you gave me
and i had - sorry, have - a therapist's bill.

but this isn't about you. i don't write about you.
i make a point of not writing about you,
actually. which is to say that i write about you
in a way that doesn't let you hurt me anymore.
i write about what i was wearing
(did i deserve it? in my 1970s male t-shirt?)
or what i was drinking
(it was university)
or how i tried to throw myself into a river
in the aftermath
(but i didn't, because i got thirsty, and i didn't
want to die thirsty, so i went home).
no, i'm writing about the polo shirt i was wearing.

cotton, i think. polyester, probably.
the amazing technicolour haze of am i sober enough for this?
who knows how many iterations
of the same lancaster charity shop
it circled through, old men with families
and wives and kids -
it probably saw birthdays and christmases
and, safely tucked in the back of a closet,
shielded itself from the almost-crisis of cuban missiles.

and then, me. a nineteen year old
branching out into the world for the first time;
a lover of poetry, maker of music, naïve and beautiful.
then, it was just a polo shirt, and i wore it
as long as it was laundered, for a month or so,
until december. not that i stopped wearing it
because it was cold. it just reminded me of hands
and hands and hands and
****, how many hands can a man have?
how long will i have to feel them?

i didn't shower the day after, just slept.
a hangover, right? just a hangover.
and then, when the hot water in my dorm
daily ticked on, i washed every inch of myself
to get rid of you, and your foam banana shower gel
that your mother probably told you to buy.

so, what compensation do you owe me?
what price should i put on things?
you touch it, so you pay for it.
one charity shop shirt, three pounds please.
oh this is DARK my apologies <3 i'm fine <3
  Jan 20 Grace
Gabriel
two men at the water.
you've all heard the puzzle, right?
you have three wolves and three sheep
and you need to cross a river.
(any river. let's call it—
oh, i don't know. the baptismal
jordan.)

okay, so it's a little different.
one sheep who doesn't follow the crowd
and one wolf in the skin of his dead brother.
it still works, doesn't it?
(especially if they're in love.
let's say they're in love,
just for the sake of it.
let's let them be in love.)

if the sheep leaves the wolf behind
it's only because he was chasing the sun.
let's not blame him for chasing
the sun. let's make a terrible joke
about another son, and a father,
and a fire/sacrifice.
(let's put the sheep on the altar
and see how we can bleed him
for the machinations of another.)

let's give the wolf some big sad eyes
and a failed career
and a bad relationship with his family.
let's give him a longing
for teeth and blood but let's make him
only long for his own.
(let's string him up and get him to dance
for us. let's point and look and laugh
at the stupid little apex predator
cowering at the world.)

where were we?
oh, right. baptism.
well, that's an easy one, isn't it?
call up the sun,
and burn it—
burn it? are you sure?
yes. he's sure. so we're sure,
aren't we?
(but isn't that a rebirth?
can you baptise a phoenix?)

(no. but isn't it world class
entertainment to watch the flames
turn to ash
right beside the water?)
quick little thing i wrote about... well let's not say what it's about. let's save my pride.
Grace Jan 2019
So I’m in the room, surrounded by vivid individuals,
with all their vibrant lives, with all the things they have to say,
and I’m in the room, but half removed, a blue-bland thing,
a flat, one-dimensional thing with fuzzy unholding edges.
And I think to myself, I’m going to end up so alone
because I am such a no-person, such a flat, empty space
of a person, such a flimsy, hollowed out sort of thing.
And in this room, if one person was to simply disappear
and not disturb the balance, then surely it would be me,
the non-person who lacks all substance, who is simply not integral
enough to leave behind some long-lasting, uncloseable void.
So I go into the other room and try to make myself whole
by becoming useful but still I’m that bland, hollow thing,
still am I that name-checked no-person with nothing to say.
And so I go outside to escape myself and the long, sad, empty inevitable
and I look at the lightless sky and think to myself in the cold:
I could unpick the thread of myself from existence
and all that would be left are two small indents
to be smoothed away with the sweep of a hand.
It hurts, so I look up to the sky and dream of the island
until I’m full of tears and then I mangle my no-person face
into a smile and go back to the room, and really,
I’m living okay. I’m living okay, I’m reminded,
because there’s nothing to be sad about today,
nothing you could possibly be worried about today,
you sad, empty-headed little no-person.
a little thing about a day
Grace Jul 2018
I walk into the mirror box again and it’s as if my life
really is just an extension of my own metaphors.
I’m caught in the mirror maze, searching for something
in the mirrors at angles, but all I can see is myself,
my sad, stupid self, stretching on and on forever
with the same boring face, the same boring feelings,
again and again until I stop being able to make out the details.
Am I looking back at myself or am I looking forwards to the future?
Will it always be the same or has it merely been
the same since forever? I stare into the mirror tunnel
at all these selves repeating themselves,
forcing the years, the weeks, the days into the same strict patterns,
merely following the self that came before them, merely mirroring
the feelings, only doing it worse and worse with each new rendition.
It’s just me, I think, in the mirror box, caught up in myself
because I am selfish and horrible.
I’m selfish and horrible
and I want to turn my back on myself but
how can I possibly do that in the mirror box?
I meet myself over and over, and it’s just me,
in all this vast, repetitive vagueness, just me in
this long stretch of lonely unsettledness that surely doesn’t end.
I want to smash my own face in, so I close my eyes
and try to think, maybe, maybe, maybe, because I don’t
want to be this grey-cloud self forever. I can’t be, and so maybe,
just maybe, somewhere beyond all these selves
there’ll be a day when I’m down on the shore
and the sea will be calm and the sky will be
faded purple. Love will not sink down into nothingness
because in the cool evening air,  my heart will be full
instead of gaping and my mind will be at ease
instead dwelling on it’s own boringness
or entangling itself in own self-created sadness.
And maybe, I’ll have abandoned my book
and its pages will be dry because I won’t have been crying into it.
They’ll be no mirrors, just the ocean,
glinting like an amethyst cluster in the half light
and I’ll rest my head on the shoulder of the girlfriend
I'll meet someday and I’ll smile in this beautiful liminal moment
and nothing will be tainted by the dread of returning home.
We’ll kiss – on the shore – and rewrite it forever and
maybe the stars will fall out of the sky when I shake it and
all my trains will run on time and all the wounds
in the world will heal simultaneously.
It’s a moment surely stolen from someone else’s poetry,
but I’ve got to cling to something to avoid becoming
lost entirely in all this dark, intangible vagueness.
There’s got to be at least one imaginary moment
that isn’t just me, reflected over and over.
There’s got to be one moment that doesn’t stare
back at me from inside the mirror box.
here's another poem the same as all my others, just more mirrors and me, me, me but this time, there's some stupid, happy fantasy about a shore that will surely never happen :) might delete it, probably won't. anyway, thanks for reading - it means a lot :)
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