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"THE BREAKDOWN COMES WHEN YOU STOP CONTROLLING YOURSELF / AND WANT THE RELEASE OF A BLOODBATH" - JENNY HOLZER

I. Vanitas Vanitatum
[The stage is set: a paper moon against a starless, greyscale sky. GINSBERG howls. He's nostalgic for all he'd assumed was forgotten; desperate to never recall it again. His numbered days are manufactured: ELIOT reclines, watching the world end.]

CHORUS OF PROPHETS:
In our own sins we trusted,
both in essence and in nature.
Hell was never an inferno:
it is an echo chamber.

We have nothing (-- we have nothing --)
but maxims and jumbled alphabets
and lightly-sparkling bitterness
when the cork pops feebly from the bottle;
(-- nothing! --) dripping saltine hate.

We've lived large and small, been tiny and tall;
always filling too much space in a too-big room
where our presence is ironically scarce.
There is nothing for you here,
bar vacant lungs and river water --
take a breath and join us
                               in sinking to
                                            (sinking!) the
                                               (sinking!) bottom
                                                  (sinking­,) of
                                                        (sinki­ng...) the
                                                             ­              Styx.

II. Et Omnia Vanitas
[Enter PLATH, SEXTON, WOOLF, BYRON, DICKINSON and VARIOUS PHARMACEUTICAL BRAND REPRESENTATIVES.]

You know not what you could be
but merely what you are
and that alone is traumatic enough.
Taste it, a slice at a time:

the disillusionment from having raised your hopes beyond rotting in the soil,
the anger upon realising this was your own fault and all you want to do is scream,
the bargaining, the denial, the scream (you were not born to live). The gradual processing. The scream!
Scream at the moon and scream at the walls and scream into pillows and howl and wail and hack away at the flesh and screech until plastic surroundings melt and it is only you and the void you willed upon yourself.

III. Epitaph (What Now?)
[A white-fur baby seal is camouflaged upon the ice
and, eyes closed, fools itself into thinking it survived.]

What happens next is no act of evil:
this is survival of the fittest.
We are bottom-rung of the food chain
and starving predators need to eat.

[We lick the ground and taste defeat.]

Ruby poppies reach heavenward --
small birds take their maiden flights.
I shrivel, putrid in the soil,
in the winter of my life.
pretentious *******, slash wallowing in my losses. sometimes feeling things is nice. for the most part, it's ******* ****
Aug 9 · 722
Solitaire
I daren't (rather, shouldn't) breathe:
I'd built a tower of hearts from cards.
The gaps and breaks are real estate --
I'm nestled in the in-betweens.

                                              (Sapp­**'s spirit sighs.
                                              How human to not move quickly enough,
                                              or to yearn for whatever's inches from reach
                                              - blissfully unhinged by "almost".)

She's marble-carved and still as stone:
if I kissed her, would she spring to life?
I'd offer nought but foolish flesh,
this trembling frame, and bone.

                                                          ­  ("Tell me yes, tell me no;
                                                             either way, you're in the right,
                                                          ­   but for the love of Venus -- speak.")
i live in fear of all you haven't said and look for subtext in what you have. you leave me wondering whether you're oblivious to every hint i've ever dropped, or just reluctant to make the move, or deliberately ignoring the signals hoping i go away. am i overstepping the mark? can i shoot my shot? the last thing i want is to creep you out.
Jun 7 · 187
The Empathy Trap
"How'd you -- how can you do it -- pull the wool over your own eyes?"
"I entertain only what paints my downfall as my prime."
__________________­_

I. DEFINED
We pledge allegiance to Good Karma
and forget ourselves to cope.
Love thy neighbour and be loved:
we reek of martyrdom and hope.

II. WITHIN A SENTENCE
"I think that I can save you,"
proclaims the cursèd to the ******.
They nod in silent synchrony
and clasp each other's hands.

III. CONTRADICTIONS
These outward pure intentions
sink in flames when we're alone.
"Hold still, I'm going to hurt you,"
says the brain wave to the bone.
pretentious ******* (first drafted summer of last year in a psychiatric unit)
May 10 · 589
class of 2019
rows of two!-three!-four!-boys-bloc-king-the-cor-rid-or
will soon be gone
and the RHYTH-mic-tick-tock-of-my-leg-BOUN-cing-on-the-floor
will be no more
it's fresh cadavers wrapped in string
it is a joyful gospel hymn
mourning the best and worst of youth
(those shiny kids who'd first walked in
with all the grace and all the poise
of hatched arachnids missing limbs)

but what of "her" – you know her name –
that overfed, reptilian thing
who shed her hair and scratched her skin,
cursing the odds at Him upstairs, demanding He re-shape her?

some say she cried herself into extinction
– sailed away on a crimson tide –
balking at the trauma of being seen
(enforced, cursed vulnerability
in being known to man).

the rest knew better;
they were voyeurs in this
fruit-carving tutorial
on 'how to grow up':

STEP 1) consider all other alternatives
2) take the scalpel and initiative
3) before adrenaline gives way to doubt,
turn the flesh-vessel inside out in a cocoon of your own creation!
while organs may rupture and it aches like you've skinned yourself alive (good for her, setting herself free!) you'll look cuter in the class photos and has you-know-who... finally... shifted the weight?
4) breathe through the blood loss and searing pain
5) notice
           you
                can
                     breathe again.
                     at this point, does it matter that it aches?
tribute to the worst years of my life so far. may it only get better from here.
(No puedo hablar la lengua.)
I cannot speak my father's native tongue.
(No puedo hablar suficiente...)
At least, not enough of it to get by.
(...no entiendo, lo siento.)
The body I inhabit feels like foreign territory.
(No lo se.)
My grasp of it ends here.

I. OTRA VIDA

Dia de san valentin, 2000: mi padre aprendió inglés por amor; voló a través del mar Mediterráneo. Él tiene miedo de los sonidos cuando trata de hablar. Pero él lo intenta. Él habla casi perfectamente -- mientras, estoy teniendo una conversación uno-a-uno con Google. Es vergonzoso.

I recall two or three trips, max. There's a blend of urban and natural that's a haven for the eye -- the buildings themselves are seduced by the sun; divine blends of amber, tawny, white. Classically Romantic. That nighttime humidity fogs up your lungs and makes it feel like a hug. There was a time when we were poised to move back there - and in Dad's case, another, nearly leaving without any desire to take me with him.

My makeshift home is built upon stereotypes: orange trees, olive oil, generous glasses of vino. Pienso qué un otra vida where I'm stood on the beach at dusk, with heavy-lidded eyes and ears attuned to cicadas and rolling waves. This is narcissistic lust for the woman I could've been - she is all smiles, bilingual, peace embodied. Those are the nights when I'm not careful: she leaves my bed by morning.

II. ESTA VIDA

To mourn the "what ifs" shows a lack of gratitude for what is, and god, what luck! For inglés to be the second most-spoken language, de-facto "centre of the universe"! To migrate most anywhere and get by; for the Western world to be coerced into Anglophonic bliss since tourism makes their ends meet!

On a holiday, I clam up ordering "una batista fresa" and get a taste of how my father feels. José Francisco: his colleagues call him Frank, in the same way I shun my legal surname because a Spanish 'LL' is too hard for others to grasp. I reek of privilege - post-post-Franco, white European, playing with my non-language behind closed doors. There's private delight in a rolled 'r': momentarily, I'm local, not a mere faux-foreigner appropriating my own heritage. Ironic - he tries to be "less immigrant" whilst I've got the fortune of trying to be more.

I was born into a universe of possibilities. A million options feel like fate -- screenwriter, Oxford grad, Spanish barmaid-or-waitress-or-I'll-take-whatever -- each unchased path is a reminder that, somehow, I'm choosing wrong. I've never perceived myself as small (ex-tall child, "ex"-chubby kid with a head outstretching the clouds, first of the eleven-year-olds to grow **** and got gawped at like I'd grown an extra nostril). Outside this hall of mirrors, I am tiny -- too small to have this many dreams -- manifesting as terror-borne paralysis because I want to do more than I'm built for. Solution: aim smaller or grow up.
half-whiny, half-dreaming. i don't normally rely on google translate - i'm trying to self-teach with duolingo (occasionally enlisting grammatical help via dad).
Apr 4 · 161
preconception (noun)
unknown entities
snatched from their liminal space
into binary
brain ****
Jan 31 · 384
intimidate (verb)
lady of steel gaze:
let me learn your native tongue,
iron-clad and cold
i have literally never written a haiku
Momentary
mourning peace.
Mama pours a glass of mulled wine,
lights a scented candle
                               (- "cherries on snow" -)
and drinks to ol' Joan.

Passed down with the jewellery box,
somewhere in the will, the daughters
receive the annual chore of roasting
the turkey (delicious!) and the veggies
(good job!) and (could you pass the?) breadsauce
for their brothers and husbands huddled
            on a threadbare sofa -- and a younger girl,
            barely there, staring at a laptop screen.

Mama's not festive - always too tired -
barely celebrates, but orchestrates.
Years barely there 'cause she's needed in their kitchen
and someone's gotta cook can she please get a hand? and
one chivalrous male puffs out his chest, takes one for the team, gestures to the girl with no discernible attention span and
half-laughs an "ay, one day this'll be you!
Best get in there while you're young!"

                                                       ­   ((A baritone chorus of laughter.))

"You outdid yourself on the turkey."
"S'great, ain't it? Pass the potatoes."

Sometimes here, sometimes Spain.
We stay over. It's tradition: we're
scattered across the country,
maid duties are the least she can do.
Never our kitchen or living room.
Tiny. Messy. Unwelcoming.
Come Boxing Day, Mama gives
a bear hug goodbye and an
"it's good to see you";
Because it is, she thinks.
Thank you for inviting me
to carry out your labour.
I'm just grateful to be needed.

A month of red 'SALE' tapes
scouring the clearance shelves;
overtime for extra cash
scraped to afford the food she cooks you;
paying half for gifts she'd brainstormed
while Dad buys partial credit on the gift tag.
We leave your house.
happy holidays! if you rub your eyes, it semi-looks like a christmas tree.
see, atlas nearly dropped the world at the first sign of tremors
and gaia would've blown her top with wrath
and it nearly toppled sisyphus' boulder til it crushed him
but the 'nearly' doesn't matter 'cause the world's still in his grasp

and if paris picked selene, we might've had a heart-shaped moon
but we got the trojan shitshow, millions died
and we nearly went extinct just 'cause some ******* greek was *****
but the 'nearly' doesn't matter since we just about survived

if i cared more about science, i'd be making tons of money
but i'm an arts kid who'll likely die on the street
and endure two stints in rehab for ******* just like my dad did
but if i pull my **** together, i might just afford to eat
eso sí que es
Sep 2018 · 1.5k
I, Blanche
Fifty-percent illusion at any given time.
Your unintended muse will plead 'not guilty' to the crime
Of snatching back the quill and reshaping every line
into the role she wished to play
-- it seems the choice was never mine --

but the boy with the weighted wedding ring,
the self-appointed jury of the south;
him sheepish at the door with roses,
and the brute who owns this house.

Was it feminine mystique or was I crystal clear
while you blocked your ears and pretended not to hear?

A three-act structured tragedy.
All archetypes assigned.
"We've had this date since the beginning" --
if the part must be mine to play,
it is in my hands to manipulate.
Direct your blame to those who cast the roles.

Torn petticoat, blue piano;
flattered by the dimming glow --
oh, to be glossy pink and gold!
A trophy bride. A victor's prize.
(I snap awake and still see his eyes --
that ego swells him thrice my size --
with bruising force, he parts my thighs.)

Was it hysteria - madness? - or was I crystal clear
while you blocked your ears and pretended not to hear?

My fate was written for me,
in the frontal lobes of those who came before me:
down that narrative route, all bumps and troughs -- desire!
Fragments of an old Rossetti poem... o, vanity of vanities... the streetcar rattles and groans.
self-indulgent b-side to the prior poem 'i, ophelia'; honing in on blanche dubois (a streetcar named desire). excuse the rhymes, it's been a while.
i.
you wonder if somewhere there's a voodoo doll with your face stitched on
(and if it's covered in pins since god knows that would be the logical explanation)
who goes away in winter? he'd laughed and laughed
-- and in spite of yourself, you let him

you very patiently explain that with european winters
'the sun's still out but it's no cancer risk
and the air's still hot at night but it doesn't try to choke you
and what's more cathartic than a spanish caravan park where you're serenaded by crickets?'

playing it off as a quirk, not an excuse to be anywhere else

he'll never know the comfort in being
little more than a passing stranger
a face on a street or in a window or a car
transient, fleeting; the short-term memory lasts roughly thirty seconds
so you're a stranger in a yellow polo and then you're nobody:
it's the circle of life, but compact and mildly less terrifying

ii.
unexplored streets and brains are bigger than home:
you can only be your true self when you are not at home
eyerolling, rotting from air pollution and complaining about first-world problems
you're hardly ill at mind but you're jaded and sad and sufficiently middle-class
so when in doubt, you pack a bag and think nothing else of it

you buy the guardian and a kitkat from a sullen newsagent
whose hands look like your grandmother's
(why do you notice this stuff?)
the poor guy's only middle-aged surely - he can keep the change
counting coins is weird and confusing anyway

happy flying says the hostess with a ribbon around her neck
she means it and you know exactly why she'd taken the job on:
fixed addresses are awfully limiting
and the swarms of crying babies are probably worth it
to get to go everywhere EVERYWHERE

iii.
package holiday dj digs out his usual and plays 'come on eileen' for an aging crowd
your eyes are upturned to a foreign sky and you breathe warmth
the stars are out and you are floating quite carelessly at the top of a swimming pool

happy birthday
a narrative poem, i think? not sure where it sprang from. i just like trying to access inner monologues that aren't my own, because the ***** never shuts up
it's funny the things you forget
when asked for an 'interesting fact' --

you sleep on them for days
and exhume them from the ground
because they matter! so deeply!!
there's no metaphor that does them justice!!
it's poetry because it isn't!!!

i don't know my siblings.
my parents sleep in my dead grandad's bed
and i received his cupboards:
yeah, we're pretty much begging to be haunted.
let's be positive, it'd be nice to see him again.

thanks to reinforced childhood superstition,
i still pick up pennies from the ground
(yup, even with my germ phobia).

i used to write to the tooth fairy!
she warned me about gum disease.
her name was tiffy, but it turned out to
just be mum writing with her left hand.

as an internet-addicted hermit,
little me hated going abroad
since the only friends i felt i had were online.
there's thus a list of places to someday re-visit -
rotterdam is one.

i'd like to be somebody's muse.
if my life plan fails,
i want to work in a funeral parlour:
it feels as though i'd do it justice.

watching the same film more than once
just isn't something i do -- except grease --
exceptions can be made when it's on TV.

i mean, c'mon, it's grease.
(feel free to leave some interesting tidbits of your own life in the comments. you all seem fun enough.)
you can't make metaphors out of this stuff if you bother to write about it: they're just facts that are true. so let's chuck them all into a draft and call it a list poem. or free verse. or an experiment. hey, if 'anything can be poetry', so can this!
Mar 2018 · 1.3k
Springtime!
Spring, cherished maiden ambivalent:
three parts rain, one part intemp'rate sun.
Show sympathy for clouded, rueful weather -
and let her weep 'til she, at last, is done

for there is no permanence in her grief.
She's winter's lover, moreso summer's child:
clutching daisy chains like bespoke rosaries,
new petalled life retrieves her golden smile.
caught myself relating to the seasons. spring's emotionally dysregulated. leave her alone. :(
Mar 2018 · 4.2k
At The Stake
I envy her, the ashen girl
submerged within her flames -
with burning lobes and burning robes
but smiling all the same.
i hope she'll soon be me
Mar 2018 · 590
i, ophelia
lillies and nettles! red roses and white!
i'm fresh as a daisy and rotten from spite!
you see, my lord, i've half a mind--
but it won't let me speak my mind --
my molars grind
and tense and bleed
- that's why my hands are red, you see! -
i tried to tear my tongue from my mouth
and found i'd ruined all my teeth.

few cared for my coherent word,
yet now that i can not be heard
there is a window in my door
they lean in close and wait for sure
signs of undisputed sanity
since my vital signs of life are not what they would like to be.
do you hear how they speak of me?

"hark! reapers sing in rapture, composing 'Ode To Void':
gaze upon the patron saint of self-obliteration.
this roadkill incarnate with inferno-coloured hair:
neck-deep in bloodied rivers of throttling despair."
re-write of an old poem
Mar 2018 · 774
fiona apple playlist
she'd the option to skin you alive
- hack the flesh off with the band-aid -
but she dared to do it softly
in this deliberate slaughter of dignity.
she wrapped her arms around you
and then prised your persona away.
still, she slips into language you taught her
and perceives it as her own.
in part, you're a souvenir:
the crisp packets on her bedroom floor.
the toiletries on her bathroom shelf.
the scent on her pillow.
the look in her eyes.
the rest of you is tucked away -
your laughter lies with her high school photos
and the clothes in her closet aged with moth-eaten decay.
you'd take less offence if she'd buried you under the floorboards.
now read it back. who hurt who? am i her or is she you?
i am the compost laid below your buds
and narcissus' wobbling reflection.
i project what you want to see:
(spoiler: it isn't me.)
let's split the blame
It rained the night I came to his door.
"Hello?" -- I kiss him on the mouth
and then he says no more.

My bare feet leave mud on his kitchen floor.
"I've lived on the street nearly my whole life."
A pause, then he says: "no more."

I grit my teeth and count to four.
I'm passionate; fervent -- but my strength lies in appearance.
"Should I cool it off?" "No. More."

(He fell for it - the demure
waif with the pleading eyes.
She's under his control: he's not the one who's poor.)

Failing to find the signals; too caught up in his *****.
There's a swiss-knife in my stockings.
He licks his lips and says no more --

and then he is gore.
And then I slit my lover's throat
until he breathed no more.
this is what happens when you think about gone girl + read the ****** chamber ((wow... me using capitals... intriguing))
Jan 2018 · 371
whoops!
it
is gone
and there is
simply no way
of obtaining it back again. hard luck.
if you wanted, you could try ask around –
someone might know
where to look
and tell
you
Dec 2017 · 909
Martyr of the Morgue
This diet of dirt erodes my teeth.
Perhaps I'm rotting for shock value
-- flashes of cameras --
a bloodborne shortcut to heaven.

I succumb to death a patriot:
red and white and asphyxia blue.
(We can't all drown like maidens.)

You smile and loosen your grip on my throat
to gnaw at and pick the flesh clean off my bones.
Dec 2017 · 596
Time's Soliloquy
A town whose people shapeshift everyday
keeps only worn-down roads and festive lights;

the shops, almost enchanted, switching names --
to change at will is to be true to type.

But though it's bittersweet, I must not dwell,
for dwelling simply makes me wish to die:

there cannot be a more merciless hell
than to be self-aware of time gone by -

so I face the days head-on, one by one,
thanking whatever deity's up there

for clockwork rising-falling of the sun;
a beauteous sight we're allowed to share.

Singing 'nostalgia' on our aged guitars
just picks at scabs that are to become scars.
baby's first sonnet. watching the future unfold in front of you is terrifying, but i'm attempting to convince myself that it's wonderful.
Dec 2017 · 584
Christening the Adult
In baptisms of tequila are we born again.
                               swaying -- a second prepubescence,
laughter and tears hysterical.
             Sway and stumble your way through the years,
                                       a hand on the ground in case it disappears.
ambivalent/hopeful/scared of growing up
Nov 2017 · 402
Paranoia
Remember:
be sure your sin will find you out.
Place your ear to the ground.
Listen out for shrieking sounds.

                          Remember.
                    ­       Mould a tinfoil helmet
                             and a bomb shelter made from leaves.
                                   Watch the sky for stars with teeth.
Oct 2017 · 2.0k
maggot
you wish to buy my meat.
the butcher's cut is ripe and cheap;
a fresh-faced lamb of london streets
and everybody craves a piece.

*******. ribs. thighs.
money is no issue and they'll all see you gloat:
"my spread-eagled angel will be gnawed down to bone."
(god knows there's no heart in the matter.)

you wish to play the maggot.
you want your prey half-dead.
my flesh rots and decays on your tongue,
bloodied on the slab of your mattress.
Sep 2017 · 603
Lost/Found
The pavement's cracked to death:
it's predestined damage done.
This escape route is all fractures
and your baggage weighs a ton.

Count your steps.
Light a cig.
Bide your time.
Hum a cadence call.

Don't look at the cop car.
Pretend it's a wrongful arrest;
there's a lot of those.
Inhale the dust in the air as it settles.

Read news on Trump in the Evening Standard
as if you're still a participant in the world.
No, your phone is not ringing.
Don't look at the cop car.

There's a block in the road to ruin.
(The privilege was never yours.)
Your chance of a seamless fade into darkness
is ripped clean away.
written re: a friend who ran away
May 2017 · 12.9k
waist-deep
would you listen or laugh at me
           for claiming love's an ocean?
neither a knife, nor a blindfold
                                                      .­..but a sea.
there's a human-borne catastrophe.
                       cast your eye upon those with no share.
          the contents of their buckets
are polluted and impure
                                yet all but 5%
                                goes unexplored.
do you find yourself choking in your sleep?
  why watch the waves from safe dry ground
                                                  when you could delve in deep?
do you live in fear of unchartered seas
                                                   and life still left unfound?
are you overheating if only not to drown?
we 'love addicts' are water children.
i run outside and taste the rain.
  let's go! let's drink! let's swim! let's bathe
                   and watch it seep into our pores
                         -- it escapes me how you stay indoors!
a little something optimistic
Mar 2017 · 13.9k
the teacher
(your knowledge is thrown back
with the force of a punch.)

trial and error --
            error--     error--
you're blown aback by cruelty
in those low-browed rows of eyes.

oh, joy of joys of stepford poise!
internally destroyed, all sincerity devoid:
but hey, tear-free, you taught
those ******* how to rhyme.
who's really the bricks in the wall?
Mar 2017 · 1.4k
Radio Silence
Needles screech to sudden halts
in broken (record) homes.
What'll it be? White noise CDs
or the tune that's been playing for years --

y'know, the one with the violins?
You learned the lyrics backwards;
sang 'til you were sick and sore.
But you don't like it anymore.

The rhymes have grown predictable
and the song drags on
for too
****
long.

Out of spite, you won't throw it in the fire.
You shot both the messengers
then pretended they didn't warn you.
we thank God for the roof over our heads and curse Him for the people under it.
Mar 2017 · 2.1k
ODE TO A PATRIARCH
Boundaries and discourse markers.
Loathsome, blood-half-boiled *******.
Seraphim dead on the floor
when Lucifer strolls through the door
like clockwork, each day, at four.

Whiskey flask and a Spanish bible
turned a martyr homicidal:
invisible chalk on the floor;
survivors of two different wars.
The clock cries when it strikes four.

Anger reflex stimulation.
Tangents. Ego *******.
Blind to glaringly visible flaws -
Self-serving, incompetent bore.
(Not worth living or dying for.)

Boundaries and discourse markers.
Loathsome, blood-half-boiled *******.
You're the poster man for a morgue.
Over-riped; rotten to the core.
Je voudrais seulement votre mort.
the apple was poisoned from the get-go

— The End —