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4.1k · Jan 2022
polo shirt curse
Gabriel Jan 2022
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
2.8k · Jul 2021
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'.
2.3k · Dec 2020
prince rupert's drops
Gabriel Dec 2020
oh, ****, i'm so full of love it's spilling out of me
like bullet wounds, like i've been court martialed,
like i'm the pinpoint of a broken sheet of glass,
the part from which everything else shatters;
of course i'm the centre of the universe,
who else would be? who else could love this way,
fierce and terrible and hating? who else other than me
could break the universe for another chance at hello
or at two thousand and nineteen?

which isn't to say i'm manic. which isn't to say
that i don't cry in the shower and scream in the car.
i do. but when i do, i'm the main event;
nobody booked tickets to see anybody but me here.
don't kid yourself, world. don't make me laugh.
don't act like everything is okay when i'm breaking the baby-bird bones
of my fingers every time someone else talks.
me, the human stress ball.

me, twenty stories tall and universe-filled with love,
nothing else can even come close. i'm ******* godzilla,
i'm interplanetary, i'm that giant ******* marshmallow man
from ghostbusters getting shot at by the heroes.
maybe there's just too much of me to love the way i need
to be loved; completely, obsessively, like an illness.

oh, god, i want to be loved like i'm sick.
not just another hospital bed but the whole **** ward
all for me. all eyes on me. nobody looking anywhere but me
and oh, please, i'm fine, really,
i don't need all this attention.


like i'm daring the world to divert it away.

a birthday list of gifts:
- a fifth of whiskey
- a gun with one bullet
- the attention that people get from the crowd below before they jump off a building

i don't think i'm asking for too much here.
i feel like i'm one of those unlucky ******* born on christmas day
who get half the presents for twice the occasion.
how cruel must god be to birth me anywhere but eden,
into a world where other people exist,
where we have jobs and say hello to store cashiers and divide up our attention like slices of mandarin.

so where's this revolution i ordered?
where are the people making me important?
i need a cause to lead and a muzzle for my heart,
and i'll burn on and out,
not like a star, but like the end of the ******* universe itself.

and here i am, acting like i matter
when i really only want to matter to you.
i don't care how you want me to revolve
as long as i'm a lone moon. as long as the tides
are all mine; see, it's a lot more complex
than me playing easy villain or anti hero. it's not
been about me this entire time.

but i can't write poems about any other subject.
Something that's kind of like a vent poem?
2.3k · Jul 2021
Worm II
Gabriel Jul 2021
I waterfall my fingers down my throat
and wriggle them like they’re alive,
like I’m nineteen years old again,
trying to prove that I’m the cool girl
with no gag reflex.

The shower runs on boiling hot
and if I stand, I might fall,
so I’m taking the hair-infested plughole
as my date to the dance,
once I’m done with the black hole left in its absence.

My fingers are uncomfortably water-warm
and if I close my eyes, it feels so good,
like the first time I realised there was a clenched fist
inside my stomach that I could begin
to uncurl.

When I think about it, it’s like *******.
It’s something I wouldn’t talk about in Church
and it’s something I should only do behind closed doors.
A lot of things are like *******, in that way,
like being gay, and cutting my own hair, and whatever this is.

It’s a distraction.
It’s something to do when the list of things to be done
is the same every day, when the doors are perpetually
shut and the clenched fist will always be clenched
once rigor mortis has set in.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
2.3k · Apr 2021
Fledgling Lullaby
Gabriel Apr 2021
She sings to you,
and you know she has returned
with food once more.
She’d **** herself
to throw it back up
into your mouth,
where it will ruminate
in your stomach
until you fly.

It tastes of love and bile,
and you lap it up;
there are things
in this nest
that you cannot name.
You try to
creak out the word
nourishment
but the crackle
in your throat
makes you sing instead.

She wants the best for you.

And off she goes,
her elegance beating
hard against the wind,
wings angelic,
archangel to you
as you watch the vultures
pry their slick bodies
from the shadows.

Take them in,
their greasy rapture
hovering,
and you’ve never understood
circles, but you know now
that you hate them.

It’s a relief when she returns,
exhausted,
stomach full.
There’s more *****,
and you would think,
if you could,
of what it must be like to die
alone.

Then, you fly.
You must.
You do.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
Gabriel Jul 2021
i am numb.
this is the one place
i cannot bear to take you,
even though i am prepared
to go to hell with you,
i will not bring you here.

it is a bathroom.
any bathroom, really,
as long as there’s something
to lean over,
something to flush,
something to destroy
the moment the room is occupied.

it’s alright, though,
because there’s a whole world
out there for us,
with gorgeous architecture
and natural allure,
so let’s go there, instead.

yes, i’ll be out soon.
if you have the tickets,
we can go anywhere.
just give me twenty minutes
to make everything okay again,
and i’ll take you
to see the taj mahal,
the colosseum,
the broken ruins of rome.

but i can never take you here.
i’m sorry;
whatever metaphorical journey
you may have thought you were on
ends here.
it’s just not something i can bring you into.

this is mine.
and i’m calling this the end.
From a poetry portfolio I wrote in second year of university, titled 'Lonely Placements in a Loveless Universe'.
2.0k · Apr 2022
shades of pink
Gabriel Apr 2022
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.
1.5k · Apr 2022
my jupiter
Gabriel Apr 2022
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
1.4k · Aug 2022
ocean-blue autumn
Gabriel Aug 2022
i see things in high definition colour, but
july is the only month that fluctuates—
between florida orange and, later, burnt sienna;
everything between the 1st to the 31st
is dipped in a honey-glaze of three things:
1. warm, sticky air
2. the feeling of 6pm
3. bicycles riding through fields of fireflies.

naturally, i spend most of july in my bedroom—
the heat gets to me, makes my allergies flare
and i watch movies; old, 80s, movies (or—tiktok clips
of the same movie, only broken up into thirty-six parts
that i view from my bed with my naked legs spinning vertical circles through the air).

i always forget the feeling of august
until it’s there again. july
overshadows it with the final embers, so i only realise
it's august on maybe the 5th or 6th. almost
a full week into a month that my brain—
which is never wrong about the way things feel—
sees a deep, ocean blue.

i don't write home about august. i don't hurry it up
through winter months, when i begin the countdown
to hot, hazy days. if anything, i view august
as the ending of something, of a summer i wished so hard for.

and every time, it blindsides me with love.

i love things more in august. i love the smell of summer-
rain on the pavement. i love songs i listened to in january.
i love waiting around for halloween. i love my bedroom,
the pause of heat-sick sleep, the blue-sky mornings.

i write love letters to autumn in a time capsule. i text july and ask u up?, and wyd?, and come over?

and still, when summer ends, i will never want to get what i wish for.
1.4k · Apr 2022
last bus home
Gabriel Apr 2022
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.
1.2k · Jul 2020
preheated predestination
Gabriel Jul 2020
i go through the hollow days
until the first drop of alcohol hits my tongue;
and then, the choice. the concerned mother,
the train-track rumbling stomach, the
"you can't drink any more unless you eat something."

i want to say it's my life. i want to say
that drinking on an empty stomach is far
more cost effective and that i'm here to go
the distance. it's enough for the first
few hours to laugh it off, until the house is closed
up and the oven is on, on, on.

really, it's not my fault. my dad's a chef. i'm human
and i know i'll die if i chastity-lock my lips forever, it's just...
well, there's something in it. there's something
perfect about "no thanks, i'm not hungry,"
like the smiling hollow is earthquake-rumbling:
"yes, yes, yes, one day you will die small."
1.2k · Apr 2022
bird of prey
Gabriel Apr 2022
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
1.1k · Jul 2021
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'.
1.1k · Aug 2020
Don’t Read This
Gabriel Aug 2020
Somewhere beneath the broad darkness
and the landslide, there’s a pocket
of nothingness, like the air bubbles
that oxygenate red wine. And somewhere
inside that, there I am,
mime-hands loving Stevie Smith
and all she stood for. A void
is just a void, and a poem
is just a poem, no matter how
you read it. You can bring this
into the church and line it up with the stained glass,
looking for a hidden meaning,
but I know this nothingness intimately,
like I know soft skin and the taste of *****,
and there is nothing to be found in there
that isn’t already inside you, except
maybe warmth and candlelight
and the idea that nothing is too far gone
to not be saved anymore. Sometimes,
I think people intentionally obscure what they mean,
like they’re not good enough for a line break,
and like it’ll be easier to rationalise being left behind
if they were limping from the start of the race
anyway. Anyway. Sorry about this;
sorry about all of this, I just really like how it looks
when you try to work any of this out.
Because it looks dismal. It looks like a pregnant
sundial churning out another day,
another day that might be Sunday,
but it also might not. It’s not like I know.
I think this stopped being a poem a few lines ago
and started being something to burn, instead,
but you can take the smallest of lighters
to the mightiest of Goliaths and they’ll scream
all the same. I heard that lobsters scream
if you put them in boiling water whilst they’re still alive.
I feel like that sometimes.
I don’t know if I’m the lobster or the water,
most days. I think I know now.
I think I know something, now,
at least.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
1.0k · Aug 2020
The Anaesthesia
Gabriel Aug 2020
Let’s talk about my knuckles,
and how scarred they are;
how the callouses seep
into flesh, become part of me,
rubbing circles underneath the hood
of my uvula.

So let’s talk about my knuckles,
and how they’re only the starting point
for throwing up apples,
golden, red, green,
bitter and sweet,
all of them mine, to be choked
back into me.

So let’s talk about Mary-birds,
and the sacrifices they make
for their children,
and in doing that, let’s talk about *****
and how beautiful the sheen
of afterbirth looks in the toilet bowl,
and how often self-destruction
tastes like sacrifice on the way back up.

So let’s talk about my knuckles,
again, and the visceral scraping
against teeth,
and how much it feels like giving up
to not sit by the toilet
waiting for a sign
that this is somehow enough.

So let’s talk about being good enough,
and how I’ll never feel that way
until my knuckles mingle
with milk-white bone,
and how the rows of pews
are pearlescent,
tainted yellow,
with smoke and bile.

So let’s talk about talons,
and vultures, and everything that happens
after death, and let’s talk about
how one day the sea will swallow us whole,
and let’s talk about the belly of the beast,
and let’s talk about Jonah,
and oh - sorry - the sermon is over,
and the priest is taking confessions,
so let’s not talk
anymore.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
984 · Jul 2021
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'.
909 · Aug 2020
The Day Before Dénouement
Gabriel Aug 2020
I’ll lie to you tomorrow,
but tell you today
that the next 24 hours
will be the start
of something beautiful;

a lie only becomes so
when the truth is impossible –
for all the times I say tomorrow
will be wonderful
there’s a possibility

unfulfilled.

So get a load of this,
me, again,
smiling to show my gums,
me, again,
writing down plans
and burning them,
me, again,
hoping that the ash
will be taken by the wind.

Unfulfilled.

Sunrises are the start and the finish line;
it’s so easy to run,
but it’s harder to stop
before I’m not
unfulfilled.

Here we are again,
the peak of the trough,
and I’m telling everyone
once more
that tomorrow
I will be (un-)

fulfilled.
Something I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in first year of university.
904 · Aug 2020
Canary over the Barricade
Gabriel Aug 2020
With every resistance,
remember –
how everything was choked
back into your mouth
when you were a baby bird
and the barricades
were not yet burned.

When you,
with aching gaze
watch the Joan of Arc torches
purge their way
up the winding acres
of stolen wood;
call yourself to Dunsinane
and wait there.

***** up your own feathers
and try to fly –
strip yourself of ash;
pretend that your fragility
is a stepping stone
to becoming a phoenix.

Inhale smoke
and watch the revolution
burn beneath your broken body,
your flightless bones
crushed to mothers’ milk,
countless choking coughs
coming up; down again.

Sing;
drown out the inevitable,
and choke;
with beautiful sounds
of death drawing acid
up your cartilage;
revolutionaries flee
the barricades, the fire,
whilst you beg
for what you have lost
to be choked back into you again.
Something I wrote for a first year university creative writing class.
888 · Apr 2022
oh.
Gabriel Apr 2022
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.
887 · Jul 2022
dirt, ash, unwilling whale
Gabriel Jul 2022
i’d scrub it; really, i would,
but i don’t want to get the dirt
on my hands.

it exists: the dirt.
on the floor and the walls
and the bottom of my wardrobe.
i hate the mess
but i hate cleaning it even more;
knowing it’s there, putting my hands
in it. the dirt—god, it’s everywhere.

it takes courage to clean.
it takes a hell of a lot of work
to make it go away
when it wasn’t designed to.
it feels like i’ll never be clean.
i could kiss the palms of lady macbeth
and feel like doubting thomas,
but my lips don’t want it.
my body doesn’t want it, viscerally
rejects it, and it exists.

nobody asks: did the whale really want to swallow jonah?

there’s dirt everywhere
and i am not clean.
maybe i won’t ever be clean
until i am no longer lazy and afraid.
i, coward designed, am lazy and afraid.

and so i let it settle. i’ll let it
settle like pompeii, and vow never
to visit ancient rome.

i don’t like ash, either.
844 · Jul 2020
oat milk
Gabriel Jul 2020
i don't think i'm getting better
but i'm drinking oat milk again.
it's the stuff my parents buy,
rich and creamy, and it doesn't
have the aftertaste of thick curdle.
and, i mean, i'm still listening to mitski,
but it's strawberry blond, not nobody,
which is equally sad when you read into it –
except i'm trying not to read into things any more.

i got a degree in reading into things
from the same university wherein i walked
the unfamiliar city streets at three in the morning,
looking for a suitable canal to drown myself in.
it was all dropping rocks to test the depth,
hands stuffed in my bright yellow raincoat pockets,
van gogh quotes and 11am seminars
and "i don't really want to die thirsty, maybe i should just

go home, you know?"

but i did that. three years of it, and i went home
to a not-quite home. that's what my parents say.
"what time are you home?" and "aren't you glad to be home?"
except for me, home isn't a four bedroom in warrington.
it's not even a seven bedroom (or, as we had it, six-bedroom-and-one-unusued-gym-room) in lancaster. it's...

well, that's the thing, isn't it?
what is home?
it's certainly not a dairy substitute.
although, i suppose, i'd rather drown in swirls of oat
than swirls of lactose. my parents say i've always been quirky like that.

me. quirky little girl from warrington.
a draft that i'm publishing now.
843 · Jan 2022
of wolves and sheep
Gabriel Jan 2022
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.
836 · Apr 2021
Introduction
Gabriel Apr 2021
Take four
and make mistakes,
wake in the morning
to check
that your fingers are attached
to the undeniable spot
where your hands end.
Watch the clock
in case it stops;
Dislodge the plaque
behind your gums
and scream in silence
at reflection-you.
Tick tock.
Script the helix
and watch it spiral,
dipped in mothers’ milk,
everyone, gather round
for the epiphany
T-minus twelve days.
Creation calls.
Victor Frankenstein here?
Making something other than history,
constriction in the surgical instruments.
The fate you are going to meet
is going to be so beautiful
for everyone else.
You are going to scream.
You know,
a lot of this is about birth.
Through these broken walls
I hope you realise
that everything here
is supposed to create life.
Even the mistakes.
Someday I’ll write a love letter
to Rosalind Elsie Franklin, like the ones
strewn about my bedroom,
where I tell her about my day
and ask if she would like to stir sugar
into tea with me
and call it a case study into romantics.
Now, pick your metaphor
and run with it, show me
how exactly you’re supposed
to be reading this.
And when you find the answer,
let me know.
Welcome to the beginning.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
Gabriel Jan 2022
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
Gabriel Apr 2021
You wanna talk balance, huh?
You got a lecture to give,
and I’m not allowed to pour a drink
to get me through? Well ****,
if this ain’t ridiculous,
but I’ll listen. Nothing else to do
up here in the snow and the solitude and the shining.

You say things started alright,
and I nod, sip something unreal,
and say yes, my dear,
yes, perhaps I broke his arm
but I’ve vented the pressure
out of the boiler now.

And ain’t it a **** shame
that I don’t talk to Al any more?
‘Cept to sneer about the history
of a place that’s too far away to push
him back to drink.

So sure, tell me I’m unravelling,
and I’ll call you a *****
and you’ll lock yourself up in the room.
Give him the key, I’ll show him
that the **** in 217 is far worse
than a broken arm and a ruined career,
because this will take me away.

Who’s the other one inside me,
worming into a space
that I thought was mine?
Two in one body, a ******’ perfect
discount deal on everything
that can destroy a family;
check one, a son with a broken
arm and a fractured mind,
check two, a ***** for a wife,
and check three, me
the head of it all,
proclamation, divination, damnation
of the foundation of this stutter
looking over, overlooking,
a broken record skipping to the part
where I **** the pressure,
**** the boiler.

I’ll see you in the next one.
Fin.
.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
753 · Jul 2021
Blood
Gabriel Jul 2021
Rust on the duvet, thick
and red and oxygenated
with disuse. Somewhere,
there’s a baby crying
for milk, yelling from all
the apartment walls;
domestic arguments,
pain painted over with a fresh
coat, cotton sheets closeted
with fire, something red (again).
Hands, gripping, arching
in isolated agony, the woman
in the bed is only
a woman in a bed. Tomorrow
the pain may subside
with ibuprofen and heat,
but tonight it boils over
like a cauldron, like a curse
between the legs. Rust
chips away at the milk
softness. A knife could slice
right through and nothing
would change. There’s no point
changing the sheets again.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
687 · May 2022
The Old Armchair
Gabriel May 2022
I rest, as once more
my legs are crossed upon the floor;
the old armchair not looms but graces
the room, and our two listening faces.

Conversation leads the wane,
the world waxes, yet I remain,
the armchair not yet old but so;
solemn comes and solemn goes.

But long since years have passed me by,
nineteen there, twenty nigh,
and still the armchair's yet to fade;
in grace and hope, and heart pervade.

And silent sit I lend my ear
to stories told first time this year,
of decades past and my existence
just a spark, universal resistance.

Generations part the seas
like Moses, only I believe
in stories told from familiar tongues,
not sung, and yet exist in song.

The armchair rests in praise and strength,
the day shall pass, familiar length;
and that familiar person there
much to rely, and all to share.

In trust, in grace, in hearted love,
and stories from which I will carve
a narrative in which I fit;
one day this armchair, I shall sit.
I wrote this for my grandad when I was around 19. He has since passed, and in the latter months of his life I was his carer. I miss him every day, and that old armchair in which he sat and talked to me about life.
623 · May 2022
miles away
Gabriel May 2022
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
585 · May 2022
mothballs
Gabriel May 2022
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.
567 · Jul 2021
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'.
Gabriel Jan 2022
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.
517 · Jul 2021
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'.
517 · Jul 2021
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'.
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'.
494 · Jul 2021
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'.
466 · Aug 2020
Folktales of Evolution
Gabriel Aug 2020
I didn’t get the memo
to evolve -
stop sticking my hands
into the fresh-fire,
as if some part
of my visceral mania
wants to ****** my knuckles
with the ashes of Prometheus.

Every day that I don’t crash my car
is a white-hot remnant
of the suffocation of boredom,
like my life is on pause
until I’m nose down in a gutter
or in a line that I keep trying to cross.

There’s evaporated acid rain
condensing within every hangover,
each time the sun
rises; I rip down my fingernails
climbing to reach it,
gasping down
at the pulsating impulse
to make something terrifying
out of paper maché
and broken bottles
and bruised ego.

In every grave, there’s an I,
subtly watching
for the apotheosis;
a moment of sickly-yellow violence
igniting once more
any excuse for a fight
for fame,
for a feeling.
Something I wrote for a first year university creative writing class.
Gabriel Apr 2021
.
Play.

I do not know which iteration of myself
I am pleading with this time,
but let me ask on my knees if I will still be you
when I get to wherever I’m supposed to end up.
When you say ‘try again’ I reset,
slam myself into doors and windows until
the milk of my bones seeps back
into amniotic fluid, and then I am here again.

I am here again, and now
I have new mistakes to make.

Pause. Confusion. Breathe. Play.

There’s a body in the glass,
fragments plucking themselves
through parallelities;
there’s something beautiful
next to something that stings,
and they pool together
like watercolours against a sky
where you can pluck your finger
from the air and lay claim to the spot
where you think the end might be.

If you want the end to be yours,
then take it. Tell me
how I should be going about this,
and if you can watch as I
ruin everything again, let yourself
become dust in the air
and surround me with the control
that I do not have.

I’m not in control.
I’m never in control.
And there’s something absurd in the air
that pushes the day to the horizon
again.

It’s up to you now.

Pause. Rewind.
.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
427 · Jul 2021
Bone
Gabriel Jul 2021
Almost like clockwork,
the bone breaks. This time,
an arm, a warning
against the things that hands
can do. Cut it off not at the disease,
but at the root.

We hope, this time,
that we were quick enough
in the amputation.
That the disease has spread
no further than the floor
upon which the phantom limb jerks.

Last time, it was slow,
an infestation below the muscle
until the patient was screaming
for morphine. We had to cut
the lower leg first, but the thigh
was already prisoner.

The neuroscience department
has been working overtime
on all the brains we lobotomised
before removal. We’re thinking
that’s where it ruminates,
dormant, like a volcano.

The infection manifests
differently in everyone.
In some, it cries for attention,
and we cut the throat.
In others, it’s violence,
and it ends up killing itself.

There’s not much we know
and even less we can name.
When they brought my body
in, they called it loneliness,
and cut out my heart.
The wolves ate well that night.
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
412 · Apr 2021
Hallucinations
Gabriel Apr 2021
I wrote a love letter. This is not it.

But it existed,
you’ll have to take my word for that.
Existed being past tense,
because on the eve of adulthood
I took a glass jar
and my parents’ matches,
and I burned the **** thing to dust.

Which raises a question,
I suppose, of whether
things destroyed become ghosts.
Unnatural death sparking
life again in those same ashes,
a postal service with no return address.

How long before
the subject, unnamed,
would miss what never came?
Or does that even matter?
Yes, I’m asking you
to clarify so far what you think all this means.


Three years later,
I watched as everything imaginable
took shape in the picture of a flame.
Slight movement, repetition, almost,
against a television screen,
but the world became so, so wild,
and then everything was an oil painting
and I was Dorian Gray.

Slow, murmuring, hapless rubble
taking baby steps across my mind,
an experience of imagination
that says, I brought you a love letter,
once, and you crafted that into dust,
so here, take form from ash;
get up and be what you cling to.


I wrote a love letter. This is not it.
But I sent it to fate, to burn.

The fire, artificial, loved me back.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
406 · Jul 2021
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'.
394 · Aug 2020
Semi-Plagiarism
Gabriel Aug 2020
Copy yourself,
make something other
a binary you,
in a world
of starships and code
and the fact that death
doesn’t really mean anything here.

Right here,
we don’t need
oxygen or food,
in this world
of falsity and fantasy
and the sweetness of hallucination
that aches behind your body.
Stand still,
headset firmly on
and breaths calm,
a new world awaits your better self
where you forget the depersonalisation
of still always being human.

Copy that,
you’re the captain
of false starships,
hurtling through uncertainty
with virtual reality comforting
you when you realise that
you’ll never be like this.

Another you,
version fifty-three
in a chain,
never changing yourself
or becoming something better
only sticking in mistakes
and pretending like it’s improvement.

Copy yourself,
make another other
for another self,
forget your body
and transmit human signals
to other fake-people
who tell themselves aching stories

of a reality
that we daren’t change.
Something I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in first year of university.
320 · Aug 2020
Still Rebirth
Gabriel Aug 2020
I want to say please don’t leave,
I still have your coat in my wardrobe
and it looks like you can’t have gone far,
and please don’t leave, I don’t know
where else I’m supposed to stay
when it’s two in the morning
and everything feels like communion,
and please don’t leave, I am having to confront
how selfish I am.

So you’re leaving, and I’m trying to work out
if I should pack my memories into little boxes
and pretend that you’ve died, and you’re leaving
so I’m on the floor in my bedroom thinking
about going somewhere and trying to find Judas
or at least a tree with sturdy branches and the end
of a rainbow with thirty silver coins as compensation.

And now you’ve left, or at least made the decision
to leave, and here I am again trying to wave you off
with images in my mind of the Titanic leaving behind
everyone who couldn’t afford to die so grandly;
you’ve left, and I’m using metaphors to talk about this
because it’s easier than genuflecting and joining
a faceless pew - sorry, don’t think I’m calling myself Jesus
because I’m not. Really, I’m not. But you’ve left,
so don’t I have the right to call myself what I want?

It’s not like you’re here to stop me. There’s that word,
gone,
like it’s final, like you’ve joined the laundry list
of everyone who said they’d be there forever. You’re gone,
and I’m promising myself that I’ll stop being addicted
to people, only cigarettes and cheap wine and the feeling
of missing something when it isn’t quite packed up
into all of the final moving boxes just yet.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
318 · Jul 2021
Worm
Gabriel Jul 2021
Sometimes I feel like there’s a worm inside my mind,
I hear it, when it’s nighttime, it has a voice
and that voice tells me to turn my body four times
so that everyone I love doesn’t leave me.

More than that, though, I feel it
right at the back of my skull. It nestles
deep inside and chokes the blood flow away
from rationality, and I clench my fist two times two.

And then it uncurls. I think it is wounded
but it is really just gorging on the compulsion
I have fed it. Again. But the reprieve is glorious
for a moment, until its maw opens back up for more.

Its body is a spiral, contorting thoughts
until I am at its mercy; although it is part of me,
I feel as though I am part of it.
It’s impossible to run away from an attached body.

One day, everyone you love will die and it will be your fault,
ballet turn, pivot, dance en pointe my darling, again,
walk, walk, walk, walk, there we go, now people are alive.
Now you’re a hero, for a second, for two.

Here we are in the thick of it.

Oh, you didn’t like that, did you?
From a portfolio I wrote in third year of university, titled 'Infestation'.
312 · Aug 2020
Interstellar Estate Agent
Gabriel Aug 2020
We bought the galaxy
on a mortgage of borrowed time.
Because I wanted
to give you something grand
and you wanted space
and all of the stars.

Who’s in charge of this?
Not us, lying in a single bed
traversing the skies;
you need a bottle-opener
for your wine,
so you destroy a planet
and forge one in a star –
one use only.

I tell you that if we fall
into a black hole,
we’ll see in front of us
everything that will ever happen;
and you tell me you’ll look behind,
instead.

We try and find one,
but our hands come up empty,
and you say you never liked
vacuums, anyway.

I know all this.
I’ve always known all this,
and yet still,
I let you destroy
any home we create;
your hammer on the mantelpiece.

Perhaps spinning through the universe
is worthwhile,
because it means you
have to hold onto something;
finally.
Something I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in first year of university.
308 · Jul 2021
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'.
307 · Apr 2021
Isadora
Gabriel Apr 2021
She plays mother,
wraps a scarf around her neck.

Red, once,
a proclamation of this,
of who she is.

In her letters,
she writes of little strong hands
taking her
up and up to the end of the world,
the breathlessness
of love, in which she thought,
and afterwards wrote,
and afterwards danced.

The world takes her
and she paints her neck
with something beautiful;
there’s a lot here
about getting to the roots
of it all.

And from this,
something grows.
Something, now, is cultivated
in the passive tense,
and then poets flock to her,
their little strong hands
grasping against her neck
for a taste of the bruises
and the colours.

But she is a spiral in herself,
a coil waiting to snap,
she is the roots of it all.
And the world wants
what the world wants;
to dig it all up
and plant something acceptable.

Still,
the silkworm woman
will not yield,
caught in the effervescence
of spider webs and champagne
she sings,
she shouts,
opens her mouth,
and silence pours out
of the wound.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
304 · Aug 2020
Middle C Seems So Far Away
Gabriel Aug 2020
Arch your fingers, clasp your palm,
touch the keys as if pulling
at the heartstrings of a lover;
back in the looming financial crash of 2007
when a family bought a piano
and a new house,
and a young girl ached Chopin.

With your hand out of the window
and the car on the motorway,
talon hands, poised,
feel the air as a shotput;
smooth, round, permanent - oxygen bubbles
puppeteering pale fingertips
until the window goes up
and the radio is heard again.

Speaking three languages,
la mort, la mort, la mort;
D – E – A – D
the keys cannot spell ‘childhood’,
but her fingers reach
more than an octave now
(her thumb still ******).

Chopin welcomes her
to her final decomposition;
her piano, dusty
and blooming with flowers
through each key,
plays discords
that don’t quite make
a funeral march.
Something I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in first year of university.
292 · Jul 2021
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'.
292 · Aug 2020
Prayers to Eve
Gabriel Aug 2020
I imagine how soft the hands must have been
to crush supple, christened grapes into wine,
and I sip for longer, staring down the Deacon;
avert my eyes from the wrinkles that find
some hand between, a drop of wine on the palm,
pushing the lifeless red to lips, mine.

With the wood of the pews touching bare thigh
and someone either side of me, I pray, silently,
for the ghosts of the Vestal Virgins who were, too,
boxed into Heavenly pastures, to come and sing,
with cherry-wine mouths, that Hell will be most glorious.

I wish women were priests, and think of how tempting
it must have been for Eve to find gentleness
when Adam touched his remaining ribs - the beauty
of self, she must have eaten an abundance of fruits
grown from male seed, before the apple speaks of tenderness,
of the mirror that shows herself. The cruelty of the snake
burns, and Hell bleeds as punishment for unwritten crime.

But how beautiful it is, to think that God exists!
To think of him lying dead, splayed out,
or perhaps curdling into spoiled milk, festering
in the fetal position, plumes of Papal smoke
encompassing his body, the smell of stale cigarettes
and spilled wine, and a congregation chorus-echo of Last Rites.

I have never been sure how to worship, only the imperative
of the verb - to worship - to allow God to enter wherever he pleases
and to leave wildly, like horses trampling across northern grass.
I have known for as long as I have held privy to thought
that my body is not my own, I must open the gateway to my vessel
and let him free me from sin; Lord, help me,
but I keep finding God in the eyes of a woman.

Finding her at a crossroads is like finding myself in the dark,
forbidden, and the easiest thing my hands have ever led me to do,
except I can no longer recall whether any hymns sung of Eve;
temptation crowns her legacy and we remain treated this way,
like grapes, and there is power beyond omnipotence in accepting
that if we are going to be crushed, we may as well hitch our last breaths
on the lips of women, praying, eternally, for God’s eyes
to have been burned out by his own, masculine light.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
286 · Apr 2021
Who Picks up the Threads?
Gabriel Apr 2021
You’re reading this poem
and I’m picking at the hem of my dress
until the circle of fabric
that graced my feet
now sits uncertainly
at my ankles.

You’re not passive,
no longer can you claim actionless;
for every line you read
I’m pulling more
and now my knees are exposed
to the cold scrutiny.

Which line, I wonder,
will you like enough to remember,
and will it be worth anything
when you’re done?
I’m asking you this
not quite rhetorically,
but I don’t think you can see past
the thighs shaking in the winter.

It’s not your fault, of course,
not you, or you,
but you’re still reading,
and I’m still unwinding
the thread,
so let’s make the claim,
you and I,
that we’re both at fault here.

It’ll be too late by the time these words reach you.

There’ll come a point,
where you look away,
and I wonder which part of myself
was too much;
which part of myself
made you turn away,
and which part of myself
needs further work to be presentable
in anything other than excess.

I apologise. I’m rambling, and still pulling at the thread. The idea here is to make this harder to read, because ******* it, I won’t stoop so low as to beg you to stop, but it’s getting colder the more I pull. Soon enough, I’ll be bare in front of you, and what are we to do, then?

What are we ever to do?
It’s alright to stop reading, now,
because there’s no thread left to unravel,
just a pile of loose fabric at my feet, and
you can close the book, now. You can close
it, and I’ll pick up the needle.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'Spiral'.
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