Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
7d · 73
mothballs
Gabriel 7d
It’s always been enough to wear the same cardigan for comfort,
This old red chenille one I bought at the wholesale store when I was 15.
It’s funny—it never came with memories, but it has them with me.
I ripped a little hole in the crochet links more than once, bumping into corners and getting it caught on chairs;
I think I’ve always been getting caught on chairs. Snagging my best laid plans on what it means to be a person, wearing a cardigan, but,
It still sits in the back of my closet, in one piece.

I remember wearing it when I needed comfort. When comfort wouldn’t come. When comfort was a love letter delivered to the wrong address. When I read something that wasn’t mine, and became mine nonetheless, in worn out crochet. I should have thrown it out years ago, but it’s mine,
Tattered and torn and sitting in the back of my closet because I’m too afraid the next time I wear it will be the last before it rips completely.

I, on the other hand, have already ripped completely.
Because I could only stay in the closet for 19 years.
I miss that red chenille cardigan. It was there when I was there, in the closet, being me when I shouldn’t have been me,
And it stayed at home when I left for somewhere I thought was better.

I visit my parents. I suppose I still live there, in part, with that red cardigan.
Stuffed into a space that’s small but safe,
The way plants grow withered but tall without sunlight
Or the way I ended up so independent I became lonely.

I define loneliness by how well it wears a red cardigan.
I judge it by how much the snags and small unravelings stick out;
I love it for that. For the sticking out. For the unravelled yarn in place of my tangled emotions,
For the staples that I put in it because I didn’t know how to sew.
My mother could have taught me how to sew, but I exist in a whirlwind of quick fingers and dropped stitches,
And my woman’s place is not the same as hers.

I wish she’d taught me how to make flapjacks, how to repair cardigans, how to love a man;
I wish she hadn’t taught me that my father loved me.
I wish my father had seen an old cardigan and thought of repairs, instead of the old donation box it could be thrown into,
But he was never the type to try and fix things anyway.

I’ll fix his mistakes. I will keep that cardigan, that old thing,
And I will not repair the imperfections that have given it character.
What am I but a red chenille cardigan? Held onto but never worn?
What am I if not something to be contained at the broken seams in hopes that I can preserve myself longer?

So, I am preserved. A fossil. An old relic of Pompeii, frozen in ash, wearing a cardigan that I don’t really fit into anymore,
A wash of red amongst the black and grey wreckage;
Oh, how I have a home in the wreckage. How I am a cardigan atop the ashes.
It doesn’t flutter. There’s no wind to carry it.

In another life, I’d be the wind. But we’ve already established the story, haven’t we? I’m the cardigan.
I’m nothing but thread that’s woven itself into something of minor importance at best.
So, here I am. Minor importance. Worn cardigan. Here I am, wearing it all. Can you see it yet?
It’s riddled with holes, but still in one piece.
I wrote this with my girlfriend; we took turns writing one line each. I'm forever in awe of her command over words. She inspires me every day.
7d · 111
miles away
Gabriel 7d
i look at the sky and i love you.
it's pink and purple and maroon and yellow.
and i think oh
how beautiful is that?


you're walking down streets
that i don't walk down.
you're living a life;
and i'm logging onto my phone
to tell you how well you're doing.

(we're miles away.)

but isn't that just so wonderful?
i see a sky you haven't seen
and i send it to you. (think of you.)
you show me a love
from miles away.

i breathe. (in, out.)
and i think
oh, how beautiful
to be loved from a distance.

but you're close.
you see me, you're close and far
and oh, i see it. how close you are.

i look at the sky and i am loved.
let it always be pink.
let it always be purple.
let it always be maroon.
let it always be yellow.
let it always be,
until we meet,
and find patterns of friendship in the clouds.

until then, my best friend.
until then.
(i'll smile as i wait.)

the sky will be beautiful.
a poem about long distance best friends, for my bestie kait
May 6 · 66
my apollo
Gabriel May 6
Ambrosia makes you a man, Apollo,
And to me, bring forth the ancient sunrise;
Go! You go, and ever shall I follow,
One man in your eternal light disguised.
Too short a time I have borrowed for you,
And from you, forever a single breath;
Your honey-thick glory mine to pursue,
Chased and captured, birthright to timely death.
Those Biblical tales I shall now forsake,
For no God but yourself shall e’er be prayed;
Angels—I shun them; their eyes I unmake,
I look unto you, and be not afraid.
Do not grieve for me: I will not be gone,
My Apollo, I will be in the dawn.
a sonnet from a story i wrote
Gabriel May 6
I think of you, and I think of sirens
But not of shipwrecks. Of lighthouses
But not of dark shores. Sometimes, I
Think so much that it hurts,
And then I stop thinking.

I think of you, and I think of sunshine
But not of night. Of the moon
But not of the tides. Sometimes, I
Want to sit by the ocean
And swallow it whole,
And then I stop crying.

I think of you. I think of you.
I see the world,
And I think of you.
from a story i wrote
Apr 28 · 423
my jupiter
Gabriel Apr 28
i've always liked space.
the idea of exploring
the final frontier; beyond
and into everything.
when i was in university
i wanted to be an astronaut
with a literature degree—
i thought hey,
why take maths and science
up there, but not language?
not poetry?

it's all well and good if we meet aliens,
but what will they know of us
without first knowing how we love?
i would bring a book of love poems
to the extra-terrestrials
and explain that the finest human condition
is one of devotion.
science got us upwards,
but love gave us the idea.

i'll never be an astronaut.
i think some people are destined
to become the dust that made us;
that shaped us. some of us
are our mother's children,
born on earth to die here too,
but we dream. what are we
if not made of dreams?

at night, i look at the moon.
sometimes, it is so big and full
that my heart swells with it.
my chest bursts like i've stepped
into the light of a space station
without a space suit.
that tiny little moment before death,
in which i am one with the universe,
and it makes me so small.

but, oh. out—
out into the glow of a thousand suns.
little poet in the wide universe,
loving his way upwards.
loving someone so much
that he understands
what it feels like to take
such a great leap.

with her, i know the stars.
i asked my girlfriend what her fav space thing was and she said she liked jupiter. it's a fitting title because this is for and about her
Apr 25 · 300
bird of prey
Gabriel Apr 25
what is more unusual than being dead? he says.
being dying, he responds. being a ghost.
and what do ghosts do? they haunt.
who do they haunt? other dead people?
the living. the remains. the corpses.
other ghosts?
there are no other ghosts.

what is more unusual than a blade? he asks.
being stabbed, he responds. blood.
is that not a sign of being alive?
not always. not when it's you.
what am i?
well isn't that the question.
what do i do?
you haunt. you save.
so i'm fate?
if you want. you have one, that's for sure.
i have a fate?
it's a cheap substitution for free will.

what is more unusual than free will? he begs.
nothing, he responds. nothing at all.
yeah yeah this is based on simon blackquill from ace attorney. deal w it
Apr 21 · 318
shades of pink
Gabriel Apr 21
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.
Apr 19 · 214
oh.
Gabriel Apr 19
oh.
oh, terrible person;
oh, woe is me, terrible
'person' for terrible acts
that were never committed
in the first place.

oh, second place,
welcome me. welcome
me? welcome 'person'
for uncommitted deeds
and false memories?
is it welcome? is it
welcome?

oh, honey. oh, darling.
oh, sweet sweet sinner
from catholic school
in the back seat of a fighter jet.
oh, military propaganda
for a life un-lived. oh,
song. oh, drown it out.
oh, performance.

oh, performance.

oh, beautiful girl.
oh, girl to be taken.
oh, girl to be used.
oh, girl, get used to it,
you'll be dealing with this
longer than it was dealt to you.
oh, girl, you'll be hurt
longer than the hurters. oh,
sweetheart, i forgive you because you
were young. but you are me,
so i also hate you.

oh, little one.
won't you grow up?
won't you be a failure
earlier than i was?
won't you give up
like i never did?
won't you hitch a breath
on a short prayer,
wish you never were
wish they never were
wish those things...

oh, those things.
wish they never were?

see, you're younger than me.
oh, you're so much younger than me.
wish they were never done;

see, twenty-three year olds
don't have fairy godmothers.
they have propranolol and therapists
and dialectical behaviour therapy forms
forgotten to be filled in.
oh, forgotten.
oh, stone slabs with no meaning.
oh, stonehenge.
oh, mythology.

be an anthropologist, my love.
curl up your grief
and your trauma
and work it into a pretty clay sculpture.
oh, sweetie, make it beautiful
please
make it beautiful. make it
loved, or just make it.
let it be finished
and loved
and long-lasting
and then die.

oh, and then die.

listen to music.
sink into music.
be music,
be beautiful,
be consumed.

you are what was done to you.
after all,
oh, after all,
you are what was done to you.

you are what was done?

you are done.
Apr 12 · 385
last bus home
Gabriel Apr 12
there is a collection of beautiful things
on the street at three in the morning.
i know this because i am one of them;
tomorrow, i will be human again,
but tonight, i am divine. tonight,
i am the beer bottle rattling, unbroken,
sea-glass against the cobblestone.
i have been seen and been consumed,
which, at three in the morning
(in a collection of beautiful things on the street)
is the human experience. to live, divine—
or something like that.

so, meet me in the neon lights.
where am i? look into them as if the sun,
and find apollo. there i'll be.
Gabriel Jan 29
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 · 562
polo shirt curse
Gabriel Jan 27
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 · 466
of wolves and sheep
Gabriel Jan 20
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.
Gabriel Jan 9
sometimes, i look at dainty strong marble effigies
of the ****** mary holding her birth-bloodied son
and wonder if some loves aren't meant for everyone.

chastity-locked inside my heart, there's a woman
who wears long sundresses and lives in the little mac and cheese potluck moments;
she prays her rosary and feels the warm arms
of her traditional husband who loves her as a duty.

as for jesus, well, he's a cheap plastic figurine
she bought from ebay and stuck on the dashboard of her car;
the heat melted his feet in a crucifixion of 2020
but he still stands, wobbly and shaky and commercialised.
when she travels, she prays to him for safety.

(she doesn't travel a lot. she's happy to be stagnant and pray for still waters every morning.)

who cares about my heart, though?
who loves unconditionally and always,
and sees through the rips of cartilage and crushed aorta -
who will look and look and look
and see me? sorry, see me? sorry, see me out.

sometimes, i want to be a child again;
cradled in my mother's arms. sometimes,
i want to no longer put my dreams on hold.
sometimes, i want the world to look at me and say
"hey, pontius pilate, there's another one for martyrdom."
something something catholic guilt and childhood dreams of fame
Jul 2021 · 208
michelle von emster
Gabriel Jul 2021
quite honestly, i don’t want you to remember this.
i don’t want you to finish reading and think man,
at least i’m not that pathetic,
you know? if i can make you feel better
about your own life, then great,
i’ll take it, but god, please don’t remember
me after you’re done.

i think that people exist when they’re thought about.
if it was that easy to blink out of existence,
i’d erase my name from every government database
and, i don’t know, go and live on an island
until i got eaten by sharks.

actually, let’s talk about that instead. sharks.
everyone’s scared of them since jaws
came out, but statistically they ****
one person every two years. that’s 0.5
people a year; half a person dying.
i’ve killed more people than that in stories.

but hollywood thought “hey, let’s make the big scary
shark into the villain”, and everyone said “okay”
and ate it up with big wild teeth
and now people don’t swim in shallow waters
because their shadows look like seals.

i wonder if someone made a movie about me.
‘the big scary sad life of never leaving your room’,
because people cross the street when i notice them
cross the street,
so it’s only a matter of time before i join
the barracks of some statistic, too.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
you must like me a lot, love me even;
the way you tear into my body means you
want it to be yours. tell me you want it
to be yours and i’ll let you in. i know you
get off on tearing the door down but this time
i’ll open it right up. i’m here for you,
that’s what they say before they ignore
your calls. not you. i can call and you
pick up with your sleepy voice and viscous sarcasm
and i say everything to you.

(it’s pathetic.)

i hear your voice in my head, instead of me
and my voice. it’s always there, thickly whispering
all the things that i try and tell myself, to me:
a love letter from back home, the temporal lobe.
i wish i knew what you wanted from me
because every version of you that i create
tells me awful things, how it hates me,
how i should hate me, too.

(you should.)

so what part of this will survive? will it be me,
putting myself first again (selfish), or will it be you,
headstrong and fast and violent and so unlike me?
so unlike how i love and crave the atoms of you.
so unlike how i feel, how you tell me
i’m supposed to feel. what is it that i love? you.
what is it that i hate?
what is it that i hate?
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
i forget things half the time
and i forget that i’ve forgotten even more;
i think maybe part of my brain
decided, once, that i’m still young
and i have to make more room
for anything good. i’m dreaming
and that’s good, i don’t know why but,
well, there’s always a little split second
before i wake up where i’m not anything.
i’m not awake, or asleep, just lying
in the sweat of a thick winter duvet,
and i feel like half a person, half the time
but that moment before everything sets in
is a little pocket of happiness,
where i’m not me and those things were never done.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
are we talking about trauma or are we talking about sleeping?
i can’t seem to do both, unless we’re talking about nightmares,
but we’re not talking about nightmares (and really, we’re
talking about nightmares). so sometimes, we cope.
sometimes, we lick the sweat off each others hands
and claim that everything disgusting is beautiful,
like blood and **** and ***** on the floor from too many pills
and a bathtub full of failed suicide attempts.
see, sometimes (sometimes meaning - obviously - always)
i have dreams about you overdosing
and i don’t know whether to call them nightmares or…
or or or or memories. you tell me you’re clean
and i know you took a shower for the first time this week.
you sent me a pinterest board with my name
but it was filled with photos of people who aren’t me.
i suppose that’s how you love, and i suppose
i’ll have to make do with what i’ve got, a double bed,
a lot of things that i should probably tell a therapist,
and an itch that needs no fingernails to scratch.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
at nighttime, when the water
is more soft than warm,
and there’s (something) white
waves leaning up to kiss the rope
shoreline. at midnight (close enough),
when all the lovers have retired
to old-folks’ homes and single
beds. the stragglers, strangers (i)
who walk barefoot on the rocks
have cut their feet and gone home,
the stars seem to turn their back and i
(miss you) wait a little longer.

before dawn, before sunrise, the last
colours on earth are blues and blacks
airbrushed against a ***** palette
and they’re waiting for me to stop
waiting. the water is cool and feels
sort of how i imagine a hug would feel
so i linger in it, in the liminality,
until my ankles are in deep and it’s harder
to walk. but i walk.

i hope the stars are watching, now.
i hope they’re a little more comfortable
with suicide, since i am, having overcome
every happy thought i’ve ever had
and still this is what feels right,
being touched for the last time
right up to my neck and all those saltwater bruises.

i want to fill myself with it,
not just my lungs, but every cavity -
the space between my fingers, the gap
in my front teeth, right down
to the intimacy of my naked body
which will bloat before i am found.

but now, i am not found. now,
i am infinite and dying,
and in this one singular moment,
the nighttime sky reflects every colour
through the hazy film of the slick sea,
and my pockets hold no stones.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 62
; and , (but never . )
Gabriel Jul 2021
your little snore-music against my heart
(i’m not really sleeping, you just can’t tell)
when your curtains strip before the bed
(i left them swinging that way,)
i’m running away in a car that won’t start
(drive off a cliff or drive straight into hell)
there’s a space between my legs you said, you said.
(the curtains won’t fall on your stage.)

and the hot powder night seems to sing of delusion
(it’s because you’re here that i’m spitting up smoke)
drugs and cigarette burns and throwing up bile
(and thinking that i must be mad,)
you roll your eyes thickly in familiar disillusion
(if i’m not beside you, how then will you cope?)
it doesn’t quite fit when you say you’re mine.
(god, am i just like my dad?)

so the suicidal stars will put themselves out
(did i ever tell you to get therapy?)
and i’ll end up putting something out, too,
(right now, it’s long overdue)
your little snore-music becomes more of a shout
(you’re not your own priority)
i’m exhausted. i’m crying. you’re you.
(i’m exhausted. i’m screaming. you’re you.)

so **** out the petrol from the car exhaust
(so leave me, my darling, i’m not good for your health)
and tell yourself love, just what did that cost?
(and tell yourself, still, i’ll find someone else.)
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 76
the mess
Gabriel Jul 2021
this place is my bedroom, but different.
it’s like everything has been shifted
an inch to the left, so practically, everything
is the same, but it’s unsettling. it’s off.
there’s a space where my coat
should hang from a rope
but it’s more like a prison cell
than an ending. it’s more like i have
to exist here, rather than wanting to.
i don’t actively want anything.

well, i want my coat. it’s your coat,
really, but you left it in my apartment
for two weeks and i think that makes it mine.
like how i stayed in your bed for three days
without eating or moving or showering
and you told me that it put me in your debt,
that i had to do something spectacular
like jump off a building or get clean
in order to belong to myself again.

perhaps if i wear enough coats, i’ll cover
the flesh that you exposed. maybe it’s easier
to say that you did this to me, that everything i
did was just a response. a backlash. a quick whip
into another lifetime to see if you were right,
i'm *****, i need to sit in the shower
until the water runs rose-clear.

remember when we sat on your sofa
eating popcorn? skirting between jobs;
you worked for that skeevy *** line
and i tried to sell my art. nobody wanted
your body or my sadness, so we took
them in and adopted them and gave them
to each other. i have all the fleshy parts
of your skin, and you have the burden
of knowing that you knew me.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 65
cyclamen
Gabriel Jul 2021
i’ve got hollow bones like a little baby bird.
i tell myself that, when you pour yourself
into me. you’re liquid and i’m just a vessel,
a vase for some flowers. it would be easier
to love someone else, and i do, but i am still,
like the cool water’s liminal edge,
and i am primarily yours.

i’ve got rough skin from years of scrubbing
to make myself clean. our bathtub
has seen more of me our mirror has,
even more so the razor on the little ledge
that i use to shave my non-existent ****** hair
and pretend i’m someone else. like we’re
in a 50s movie about coming to not-quite
terms with disillusionment.

i’ve got eyes that stare too intently,
scared to blink away the ghost of you
that sits on the edge of the bed, all skin
and bone and more skin left over,
enough of it that i can grab onto and wrap
myself in. then i’ll set us both alight.

maybe i’m the one with hands that hurt,
i don't really know much of this anymore.
you are white-hot and violently intense,
the rock to which my hard place shore-crashes;
if you must be by my side, do it quickly
and painlessly, for i’ve had enough
of time and agony for a lifetime.

for two lifetimes, actually.
mine and yours.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 49
survival of the hottest
Gabriel Jul 2021
when dogs bite people, they put them down.
it’s sad, isn’t it? that we punish the animalistic
in the animals and let it run wild in the predators.
you, in the forest, you, lying down next to me,
and i hold something in my hands but it’s cold,
now, like the corpse of a dead rabbit caught in a trap.
the foxes are salivating but i won’t hand this over.
a dog bit you the other day and you bit it back.
i hated you for that. the foxes are whining
and i yelp back, wounded, bitten.
you scream too because you like your voice
against the night. you’re an animal. you
open me up and play doctor and the moonlight
glints across your yellow teeth.
your fingernails paw across my chest
and they’re perfectly sharpened. you make
me wait for it. you made this world,
and now you’re bored.
i’m wondering whether you
got to tear into something so sweet
ever again.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 45
drive-thru rehab
Gabriel Jul 2021
i love you, but not in the way you want to be loved.
you want someone to say (hey it’s okay
that you get ****** up on coke and bite
the skin off my neck, darling) and i want to change
you. i want things because i’m designed to want:
like wolf-alice wanted to howl
and i want to scream to feel alive. instead,
i scream helplessly. (noise noise noise)
that’s what you say. that’s what you sound like.
you always sound like something,
you’re not quiet. you clamp your hand over my mouth
and i smile. i’m quiet. it’s okay
that you get ****** up on coke and bite
the skin off my neck, babe.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
thank you for buying me that bottle of *****
that i left in my drawer and forgot about,
because we were going out that night for cocktails
and i like to dress up and pretend
that i’m the man. do they still say that?
you the man!
or is that another thing i missed out on?

thank you for reminding me, when it’s 2am
and i’m faded out, listening to mitski,
that i still have that bottle of *****
and there’s nothing to remember
so i may as well black out.

god, i must sound like such a lost cause,
but i suppose i am, i suppose i’m
a rescue dog sent back after christmas,
cycling through lost and found
like a jumper with holes in or a love
letter to someone called sally. (i’m not sally.)

god, i must seem like something to be taken
care of, or taken violently, just taken
so i’m not left behind. you know. you know?
do you know? i mean, i’m asking -
begging - you to do all these bad things
to me because i don’t know what i deserve.

thank you for making fun of my therapist
and for driving me to get ice cream
when you knew i had to be across town
in an hour. that ice cream tasted so good.
you got cookies and cream and i don’t remember
what mine was, but you licked it off my lips
and i thanked you because it was the first time
in a long time
that i’d been touched like that.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
my god i need to hear voices somewhere else
than these little apartment walls (i keep
something inside) have you ever seen a film
on tv late at night (like a prison) where there’s
a room and the walls are closing in (locked)
but they always manage to get out (let me in) well
babe that’s me except i don’t get out i just get
s m a l l e r
would you rather i was enough for you or
enough for myself or
enough to fill a line with anything other than
a straight-up-on-the-rocks-panic-attack
with two straws and a little paper umbrella
and a tap tap tap on the bar waiting for the walls
to o p e n up again?
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 76
mouth full of metaphor
Gabriel Jul 2021
sorry. i know i’m supposed to start at the beginning
but i don’t really know when that was. sorry,
there’s something in your mouth. what was that fairy
tale about all the teeth? no, wait, that’s not the one;
there was… woods? maybe. i don’t remember. i
never had one of those big books of fairy tales
as a kid. i had a forest, though, and an imagination,
and something to run away from. and milk teeth. sorry,
i had milk teeth, how small your milk teeth are!
is that the beginning? if it is, let’s not start there let’s -
let’s start somewhere else. like the middle. the part
with alleyways and drug deals and i thought you were
the story i was searching for. turns out you’re something,
for sure, but if we start with that then we’ll start with feelings
and that’s what good poetry is about. and this isn’t good
poetry. this is an incomprehensible stream of anxiety
medication and being someone else so - so which part
am i supposed to play? i don’t have a red cape but the wolf
doesn’t have milk teeth. am i the one in the bed? does
that make me dead? i can’t finish this. maybe i should start at the
end.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'asmr: i’m crying in the bathroom and you’re into emotional voyeurism'.
Jul 2021 · 97
The Waking
Gabriel Jul 2021
Eventually,
you have to wake up.
You’re going to have to sit
back in your chair and drink whatever
stale coffee you’ve been nursing for an hour.

Perhaps all of this has been a dream, but not a good
enough one to read back and check whether it’s worth actualising
into something other than an insomniac cry for help. I would dial it back
if I could, make it easier to digest behind the eyes, but then I’d be
running the risk of saying things that I don’t mean. Maybe
there’s a little bit of truth to that. Maybe we’re all unable
to sleep in past noon. If you want to call me a liar,
I’ll take it. I’ll take anything at this point.

Especially if it’s over the counter.
You ever try that? For
insomnia, I mean.

They give you pills now, when you tell them you can’t sleep.
They knock you out real good and you wake up foggy,
the throes of a dream already slipping away like crushed glass.
You know, I heard of a guy once who got knocked out
and lived a whole other life, with a made up house and a made up
wife and a made up storyline, and then he woke up on the ground
and he was somebody else. I mean, he was himself, of course,
but he’d dreamed himself into another life, so the real one was more unreal
than the thing in his brain. Interesting, isn’t it? How time is fragile enough
that you can live fifty years in the second it takes to recover from a hard punch.
Do you see what I’m getting at, now? Pinch me. I need to know if I’m real.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
This started off so well. I was in love,
and I was awake, and when I wasn’t
awake I was at least in bed with someone.
There’s a lot to be said
and so little time to say it in,
I even dreamed up a new colour.

That’s the big question
of science versus imagination.
Try and think of a new colour,
one that you can’t find on a spectrum
or a colour wheel. You can’t, right?

So the imagination has limits,
of course, but only insofar as the world
has limits. Blah blah, laws of physics,
blah blah, one day everyone you love
will die.

It’s not like that anymore. I’ve been
dreaming for so long that I’ve forgotten
how to wake up. Here, there are more colours
than there are words to describe them,
and more words than there are conscious
feelings, and thoughts,
like the world has been stripped back
to its coding, and I'm the virus
infecting it all with the terrifying
idea of newness.

Because — we’ve invented everything
we can invent, and dreamed up blueprints
for everything we can’t.
I think we’re done with the waking now,
and it’s time for the other to step in.
It’s almost done. But what can be done
when things are done?
Rest? A nice thought.
But we’re done with that, too.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 294
Swimming Pool
Gabriel Jul 2021
It’s a June-hot part of May
and I’m in a swimming pool,
head underwater,
and the whole world is filtered
through chlorine.
I try to open my eyes
without them stinging
but the burn slicks my eyelids
back, like a doll I had as a child
when my stubby fingers would push
sight into those glassy eyes.

At the bottom of the water
my back hits cool tile,
and I only know which way is up
when I exhale some of the precious air
and watch the bubbles blink
out of existence at the surface.
I wonder if I, too, will become
something intangible once I
reach the land again, but I cannot stay
down here forever.

I know about drowning.
I have read many poems about people
who wave death in like an old friend
and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Perhaps we all end up
in a swimming pool, one way
or another. I’m just at the bottom of mine,
seeing in my mid-twenties in a haze
of unconscious sleep.
If there’s something that’s going to jolt
me out of summer adolescence
then it may as well be CPR,
but for now, I can sink,
like I am not the dead body,
but the boulder weighing it down.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 76
Changing States
Gabriel Jul 2021
Have you ever slept on an airplane?
What I mean, of course, is —
have you ever slept in one place
and woken up in another?

Have you ever been a child
and believed in teleportation,
if only because you fell asleep on the old sofa
and were carried to bed in weary arms?

What I’m trying to say is,
have you ever changed states?
Have you ever been a person,
and become a memory?

Have you ever opened up an old box
of photographs, and found that you
remember places, but not people?
All those people in the background are just…

people in the background.
Have you ever broken down?
Like a car stalling on train tracks —
have you ever cried when only night can hear?

I suppose what I’m asking
for is validation. Recognition
that I’m not the only liquid-being
trying to fit myself into a tall glass.

I have done and become
all of these things, and now my body
is a jigsaw of memory
trying to fit back in the box

without disassembling myself
into little parts —
like doing so would make me
the in-between, the part of the movie

that everybody sleeps through.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 266
Backrooms
Gabriel Jul 2021
Imagine you are in a house with so many doors that you can’t breathe
for hinges and creaks and splintered wood. Imagine you peel
back the threshold to find a bedroom, the bed is hotel-made and the stink
of industrial cleaner fills you with blisters. Imagine you are trapped
in an expanse of rooms and no matter how many times you rip
the mustard bed covers away from the mottled sheet, you can never find
a room any different to the rest. Imagine that this is eternity
and in this eternity, you are yourself alone. Imagine that it gets easier
because it doesn’t, and you’re trapped in the limits of your mind.
So do it, conjure up a door that leads to anywhere else,
and when you can’t, imagine that you’re in a corridor. More rooms, more
and more doorways for you to stumble thought-drunk into, squeezing
the hinges until the oil comes out like lemon juice and the beds are made.
There’s light coming from somewhere that you’ll never be able to reach
and the corridor ends only with another beginning, you’re right
back in the thick of it again. The aye aye is pointing from the rafters
and you are plunged into dark yellows.
Imagine you’re sick with it, you’re green and turning like Autumn
into furniture. Pick a room and stick with it, you’re going to be here for a long

time.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 74
The Two Darknesses
Gabriel Jul 2021
I wear a mask in bed
to shield my eyes from the dark.
The separation of dark, really;
the two darks — the within and the without;
me, my eyes, locked into a body,
and even if I open them, I will be blind.

Outside the thin film of cotton,
the second darkness ticks onwards.
There is movement in this dark,
there is dancing,
there is a moon tracking snail-slick
across the sky, stars in its wake.
I could not sleep in this darkness
if I wanted to. I would feel motion sick
and my heavy legs would carry me
from sight to sight, dark to dark
until I became part of it.
It’s something I want to be part of, one day,
whether I’m six feet under or scattered
along the Earth, I want to no longer be scared
of the darkness that moves.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 105
Sleep Paralysis
Gabriel Jul 2021
The foot of my bed
(where the duvet, entangled in dreams,
holds me hostage between the legs)
is slick with something cool.
Something cold — stark contrast
to the sweat winking amongst leg hair —
caresses, allows airflow to de-stagnate
the locked-in night breath.

She is all eyes and hands
in all the wrong places, long fingers
separating human from other.
Her voice coos like honey
and I am bound to mattress, shivering.

If this were a hotel, there may be a Bible
in the bedside drawer, but I would rather clutch
something else. This is home,
and with no choice but to welcome the night,
I release the dust from under my fingernails,
blessed spit holy between milk thigh.

I have heard tales of angels,
women of fire whose voices, un-silenced,
make ears bleed. I am no stranger
to blood.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 72
La Petite Mort
Gabriel Jul 2021
I’d been too busy so much of the time,
that the requiem between one and another sunrise
seemed to be far too full of birdsong.
(a love song to the insomniacs of the world,
awake a million times over,
and a million times again for the sleepless
and the sick, world-weary passengers closing,
briefly, their tired eyes against the window of the Earth.)

Let’s say that the whole world is asleep
all at once. Seven and a half billion exhales,
seven and a half billion crumpled duvets
and grasping dream-hands, landing soft blows
against the mattress. What are they dreaming of?
Let’s say that they’re all dreaming of the same thing -
of the apocalypse, a kaleidoscope of little deaths
stretched out across the expanse of a dream.

Time, in dreams, is elongated; stretched out
like the pull of thick cornflour. A person —
any person, can live a thousand lives
in the space just above the nose,
where the eyes don’t meet and the dream wrinkles
the creases of age on the brow. Upon waking,
everyone will be a little bit older, and the great, catastrophic,
unreal World-Ender will fall asleep, a little out of time
with everyone else. The clocks strike into action
again. Just like in the dreams of a thousand lives,
except this time, my feet hit the ground.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 70
double bed
Gabriel Jul 2021
we are insignificant lovers, darling,
isn’t that so wonderful? the way
you wear my shirt in bed won’t change
the world, but i have never felt so safe
than when you are drifting between awake
and asleep, incoherent and warm,
all arms and legs and dreams.
you are the mornings, and sunlight
leaks onto your face, the gold
that i can never spend, and when you
smile the day begins, if only for me.

there’s nowhere i’d rather be, no state
i would rather experience other than
the liminality of you. you ask for five
more minutes in bed and how can i deny
you? not when your voice is so soft
and sounds like something i could fall
asleep (or in love) to. i’ve been waiting
for my life to begin for so long
and now i am letting it. i am letting you
in and i am no longer scared to live.

you are the well-deserved afternoon naps,
the falling-into-bed-exhausted sleep.
our skin is soft and shower-wet,
and we let it dry against the cool bedroom air.
when you look at me, i wonder
how you see me, how you smile where i
would frown at my reflection. when it’s dark,
and we’ve watched the stars for long enough,
i’ll feel for your back under the duvet
and rest well.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Insomnia'.
Jul 2021 · 89
End
Gabriel Jul 2021
End
It’s time to go to sleep.
It’s time to put the weary
mind to rest again,
and hope that it will wake
once more to a fresh day.

Imagine dew drops.
Imagine morning blessing
afternoon, and imagine
seeing it as if for the first time.

If this is what gets you through,
then that’s alright. We’re all
just meandering our way
through life. It’s a pandemic
of words, of empty promises,
of sunrises that are more boring
than spectacular.

There’s actually nothing
to be said for living,
any more. It’s not grand,
or brave, or admirable.
It isn’t even the only option,
nor is it expected.
But we — I — still need permission
to die.

If I’m ending this here,
then it’s up to you. The reader.
If you would like to close this all down,
I won’t hold it against you.
Free me from these pages,
and I’d be grateful if I was able.
And if you want to forget me,
to make me die twice,
then make it quick, and don’t hesitate.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 349
Goddess
Gabriel Jul 2021
There’s nothing sweeter
than the lick slick thick of it
on her skin. Her, of course,
being Mary, being leg spread
****** pure good girl gone bad
Mary, in holy remembrance.
Are you trying to tell me
that she didn’t have a lesbian phase
in college? That she wasn’t
****** on wine coolers
playing spin the bottle with hair
in her eyes and Joseph only a wet
dream away? When we don’t
count as people I don’t think God
gives a **** if Mary got it on
with another woman. Or maybe
I’m trying to justify blasphemy
with, well, blasphemy.

Put me in a confessional
and I’ll tell you all about angels
with eyes and rings for bodies,
I’ll wax poetic about how may
the Lord be with you, and also
with you, let’s **** to the sermon, babe.
If you want to **** my blood
dry, we’ll mix it into the Communion
wine. Oh, we’re disgusting.
Oh, we’re absolutely going to Hell,
a dingy motel off the motorway
on the way to the middle of ******* nowhere.
I’m the better version of God,
good girl gone violent,
good girl gone taken advantage of,
good girl gone **** it, if God exists,
he can come and stop me himself.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 122
OCD
Gabriel Jul 2021
OCD
Four clocks on the wall,
telling me that I’m running out of time.
There’s only me in this ghost-town,
keeper of the hands,
and I have to reset each clock
before it develops a mind
of its own.

The problem arises in that I
am flawed, and slow,
and by the time I have reset
the fourth clock,
the first is taunting me
to run back and start it all over
again.

And what’s worse?
I can no longer tell
whether I have been at this
for hours, days, months, even.
My Hell-shackles are the very thing
I am trying to push back.
I could call it a prison
of my own creation,
but I wouldn’t want to plagiarise God.

I’m having a lot of waking dreams,
like I’m hypnotised. Sometimes,
I hear voices telling me what to do
in catastrophising extremes. Set
back the clocks, or you will die one day.
Set back the clocks. Set back the clocks.
Set back the c—
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 153
Between
Gabriel Jul 2021
The shower floor
is both blistering
and icy. The water
that has pooled
under my thighs
is colder
than the heat
pounding through
the flesh of my back,
right to my spine.

I like existing
between things.
I like loving so hard
that it hurts,
and hating so violently
that I burn
like the shower-fire.

I do not know
how to do things
in anything other
than extremes.
I’m searching for
an ending
in the middle
of a battlefield,
ripping red raw
welts on my hands.

There’s a reason
behind all of this,
but if I ever find it out,
I am sure that I will die
on impact. Like a rocket
falling from the Heavens.
Like we made Man
into God, and were cast
down in Challenger fire.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 195
Pandemic
Gabriel Jul 2021
A virus is like a secret,
once it’s out, it’s out.
Like, hey, don’t tell anyone,
but I’m gay, and I have blood
in my lungs. I’m trying to choke
the gay out of myself
before anyone else can. You
see, it’s all about control:
needing it, and taking it,
and the in-between state
of having complete control
and spiralling out of it at the same time.

So if I want to find a vaccine
for all the bad thoughts I’m having
about myself, isn’t that just another
way of saying that I’m trying to make myself
immune to hatred from outside?
If it originates in the lungs,
in the mind, in the sickly body,
then it’s somehow more authentic.

And maybe I can deal with it
a little better. Only a little,
because I’m still one-hand-pinned
against the wall, choking myself
to the point that I can’t form words,
can’t say the things I’m desperately
trying to adjust to.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 177
Infestation
Gabriel Jul 2021
I’m not obsessed.
I’m just…
really, really in tune
with the fact that I was born wrong.
See, I look normal,
but I feel it inside me,
crawling like maggots under my skin;
it feels like I was parchment-stretched
in the womb,
and I’ll burst open
any day soon, loose flesh
flapping against the humdrum
buzz of a thousand flies
fighting for freedom from this oppressive
body.

And I’m not scared of that.
If anything, I’m jealous
that they get freedom.
It’s like I’m a coffin
that’s scared of dead people.
Nobody cares about the object
or the elephant in the room,
until it becomes too much,
and even then the subject takes priority.

What am I saying?
I think the writhing parasites
are inside my mind, now,
telling me to pass on a message:
it’s all fine. Don’t read any deeper
into this. We’re fine. I mean — I’m fine.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 357
Sexline
Gabriel Jul 2021
I’m calling a ******* line
and telling them that I don’t think
my first girlfriend ever loved me.
They ask me what I’m wearing,
trying to divert the conversation,
and I ask if emotional baggage counts.
I push a hand between my dry thighs
and ask them if they like their job.
I ask what their favourite flavour
of ice cream is, and if they’ve ever
eaten it in the sunshine and felt okay.
I ask if they have someone back at home
that they’re doing this for,
or if they just like monetising a soft voice.
You have a very nice voice, I say,
and they laugh, awkwardly. Kindly,
they ask if I meant to call the Samaritans instead.
I say no, they blocked my number,
and they expect me to be killing myself every time.

Are you killing yourself now?
Slowly. Do you have a boyfriend?
No, baby, I’m all yours.
Don’t lie.
I have a baby on the way. I’m just trying
to make ends meet.
I get it. Me too. By the way,
do you even like ice cream?

Not really.
Me neither. I don’t know why I brought that up
in the first place. Are you lonely?

Right now?
Yeah. Now.
A little bit.
I am killing myself, by the way. I just wanted
to talk to someone before I go.

That’s okay. Your call will be charged anyway.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 125
Bird
Gabriel Jul 2021
The thing with begging to be loved
is that there’s more love in the begging
than there is in the aftermath.
There’s more to be loved in a pathetic way
than ever in something genuine.

But we still do it. Admit it,
you’re not the exception. We drag
our hands across our bodies
and pluck them into something acceptable;
there comes a point where it’s not love,
but violence. But acknowledgement —

and **** it if they don’t feel the same.
We are all crying the way children cry
for attention. If I scrape my knee
on the thick tarmac, will I still have to walk
home alone?

The birds sing for food early in the morning.
If I were a mother, I would never
make my child beg for *****. If I were a mother,
I would rip myself apart six months in
to see if I was cooking up something that looked
like me.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 92
Fast
Gabriel Jul 2021
An Easter banquet.
A Good Friday fast
that ends in gorging.
A slaughtered lamb
with hands and flesh
on the table.
Blood on the napkins
and silence.
Emptiness at the head
of the table,
save for forks scraping
cheap porcelain.
We save the good plates
for good days,
so naturally,
they’ve never been used.
I wonder
how it feels
to have never
held food in my palms.
Give me five thousand
and I will feed them all.
Give me an
all-you-can-eat buffet
and I’ll turn it down.
I am faceless, but
not in this crowd.
A crowd, yes,
but not this one.
I’m the B-lister of the Bible.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 179
Suicide
Gabriel Jul 2021
I don’t think I know how to be sad properly.
I’d find sadness even in the middle of the dark,
even when I’m not searching for it,
but it’s not the Van Gogh type of sadness
that will gain me posthumous love.

More like, every poem I can write
is another draft of a suicide note
addressed to the tiles of the bathroom floor.
I’m struggling, sure, but I’m not struggling
in a way that’s accessible. I can’t be
processed and eaten,
my bones have no use for the Other.

But it means something to me,
it has to, otherwise why am I
doing any of this at all? I’m familiar
with red to the point of orange,
but nothing beyond that. There’s not
really — no, not at all — anything
except a cry for help in these words.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 135
Bodies
Gabriel Jul 2021
Some bodies are made of worms,
soft, malleable, wet to the touch
with tears and a thin layer of grime,
built up over years of creaky limbs
oiled with their own disuse.

Some bodies are made of wasps,
and they are violent. The buzz
rings in the ears and they are the type
to throw drunken punches. Every
second is all that is.

Some bodies are made of earth,
in that they sustain others
and drain themselves. Global
warming will **** them off, but
for now, they shine.

Some bodies are made of other bodies,
like Frankenstein, like corpses
that aren’t quite done yet
with the worms and the wasps
and the ground that they clawed out of.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 133
Simulation
Gabriel Jul 2021
They were making Jesus into a marionette.
That’s why they nailed through his hands,
because the hands are attached to the arms,
and the arms the shoulders, and from there
you can pretty much control the whole body.

It’s too easy, far too on the nose
to pretend that God is the puppet master,
and I don’t want to give any credit
to the executioners. So, let’s say
that Jesus is both puppet and puppeteer:

right. You following me?
Hands are being manipulated by hands,
and I’m trying to get at something
beyond a religion I don’t believe in any more.
The ****** lamb is in his ****** chamber
and there’s something controlling all of this.

Unreality is the only thing
that can, for sure, be real. If we’re all
in a collective simulation,
made up amoebas floating around
in some brain hooked up to wires,
then why did we invent God?
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 263
Fenn
Gabriel Jul 2021
There’s a treasure hidden deep within my bones,
and it seems like it’s the collective world’s job
to find it. To sink their hands so deep within
that my ribs crack apart and I am angel-spread.

And then they can take whatever they want
and call it ‘treasure’. And I can be left behind
and call it heartbreak, because then I’ll have something
to write poems about. Something to cry about
when I’m not really sad, I just want to be.

But if I am the forest, then I have many places to hide:
the gaps between my fingers, the way my stomach
folds over on itself. The mortifying ordeal
of knowing who I am can perhaps be my greatest ally.

So come, bring your maps and your backpacks
and all those things that TV taught you adventurers need;
come inside, I’ll put the stove on, let’s have some tea,
and you can warm your greedy hands
before they worm inside me.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 190
Scares
Gabriel Jul 2021
Five.
There’s a lump on my breast that I haven’t told the doctor about.
I told my mum, and she said it was probably fine, so it’s probably
fine, even if my friends tell me to stop chancing it and see a specialist.
Sometimes I try to pop it like a blister or a spot, but it just stings
and then Google tells me that cancer is more of a dull ache, so it’s fine.

Four.
I threw up violently in the bathroom and then my heart felt heavy.
Ignoring the obvious irony of ‘heavy’, I could describe it as:
tight, aching, dull, wheezing, like a fist clenched right around it.
Convincing myself that I was having an elongated, stretched-out
heart attack, I took myself to the hospital.
They gave me acid reflux pills.

Three.
When I was seventeen, I was as seventeen as a seventeen year old can get.
That is to say, my problems were both numerous and the end of the world.
So it surprised exactly nobody, least of all the police officers that were called,
when I took a scalpel and tried to perform surgery on myself. Yeah —
that happened. But at least I got to ride in a police car
on the way to tell the crisis team that everything was really okay, I promise.

Two.
Osteoporosis runs in my family. Like the lamest curse that can possibly
be passed down through female lineage, it’s a given truth that one day,
my bones will become brittle and break. To this day, I haven’t lost my bone-
breaking virginity, and I personally think it ***** to be twenty-one
and have never had the opportunity to get a cast signed. I drink a lot of milk.

One.
To this day, I have a fear of home invasion. I suppose I’m more attuned
to the house-settling noises of being alone. If I’ve made a habit of ignoring
all my own bone creaks, they’ll start popping up in other places.
Like knocking on a door that’s already open. Like the way the bed creaks
when I turn over. Like checking the locks when something is already inside.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Jul 2021 · 1.6k
Eggs
Gabriel Jul 2021
I swallowed my lunch down the wrong way
and now there’s something in my lungs,
eggs, I think, cracked into little pieces
with the shells all picked out.
I really should have known when I couldn’t breathe
that I was doing this backwards,
but I swallowed anyway, and now when I hyperventilate
it’s like my body is trying to make an omelette.

It sounds so funny. It sounds like everybody
but me is laughing. I mean, it’s a ridiculous idea,
having eggs in your lungs,
but the more I think it’s true, the more I feel them.

I suppose this is divine punishment
for the impossible crime of eating lunch,
for taking those eggs and cracking them straight
into my mouth. There are probably some unborn
chicks thinking, in as much as chicks can think
like we do, that this is divine punishment.
Who gets the last laugh? The abortion does.

And now I’m on the table — medical, not,
you know, the dinner one,
and the doctors are saying that they’re going to cut
something out of me to keep me alive.
If it weren’t for the fact that my mouth
has been sewed up to prevent my own idiocy,
I’d tell them that that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
Next page